Simply put, the subject of this blog, kinesiology, is a scientific method of studying the way we move.
A personal trainer will learn about the different ways in which the body functions as part of their training, including the physiological, psychological and mechanical mechanisms of the body. However, kinesiology can help a fitness professional develop a deeper understanding of these functions.
Applications of kinesiology
At different levels of study, the applications of kinesiology can cover a range of health-based and sport-related activities, including:
- Strength training
- Sports conditioning
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Occupational health and safety
- Biomedical research
What kinesiology is not…
While kinesiology is a science-based study, it is not the same as Applied Kinesiology: a complimentary practice and therapy where muscle testing is used to attempt a diagnosis (for example, weak muscles in the back suggesting lung problems) and treatment is developed through dietary changes and/or manual manipulation. At present this does not appear to be supported by credible scientific evidence.
Kinesiology and the brain
Our brains are constantly changing and adapting to training and stimuli; this is often referred to as neuroplasticity and is a key aspect of kinesiology. Changes in behaviour and activity can be seen in the brain, from increased activity in a particular area of the brain to the development of denser grey matter.
Adaptation through exercise
Personal trainers will be familiar with adaptation through exercise – another core principle of kinesiology. Whether they are working to help rehabilitate a client after an accident or stroke or devising a training programme for an elite athlete, a fitness instructor will use the principles of kinesiology.
This may range from using resistance training to help a client build up their muscle strength to neuromotor exercise training to improve balance and co-ordination (see our blog on Neuromotor exercise training). Another good example is aerobic conditioning, which can lower a client’s resting heart rate and improve their V02 max – the amount of oxygen the body uses in a minute.
As part of a client assessment (see our blog on The importance of fitness testing), personal trainers will often look at any postural imbalances the individual may have, which might affect their ability to exercise, take part in sporting activities and indeed carry out certain everyday activities. In many cases, these can be rectified through changes to training regimes.
For example, a client with a kyphotic spine may have been carrying out a lot of resistance training that involves a pushing motion, such as chest presses and bench presses and not so many exercises for the back muscles (see our blog on Lordosis, kyphosis and scoliosis).
After analysis, the fitness professional can apply the principles of kinesiology to correct postural problems. A personal trainer should also help their clients to follow the correct techniques and retain good posture while training to avoid injury and ensure that they get the maximum benefits from each exercise.
Finally, kinesiologists may be brought into a workplace to make recommendations on office furniture and layout, as well as advise on health and safety.