Before we start
If you compare a regular massage therapist to a dancer, you should compare a massage therapist who knows Kinesiology to an acrobatic dancer. There are many things a massage therapist who is also a Kinesiologist can handle better than a thousand ordinary massage therapists can. Combining Kinesiology with massage therapy can give better results in many cases, it is just important to know which of which.
What is Kinesiology?
If defined simply, is the study of movement. A kinesiologist carefully studies how muscles of the human body work to make specific body parts move. But why would one want to know how muscles work?
Of course for easier manipulation. Kinesiology can help to make weak muscles strong, rigid muscles relaxed and to increase worker productivity. Kinesiology involves a lot of careful scrutinizing of the muscles, tendons and bones, in order to make a healthier body or for a speedy recovery from injuries or cramps.
Applied Kinesiology means the use of manual muscle testing to appraise the physical, chemical or psychological dimensions of health.
What is Massage Therapy?
No one ever says no to a good massage. It is an instant mood-lifter, and an easy cure for sore muscles, rigid muscles minor injuries, and cramps. All simplicity aside, Science also explains why massage therapies are recommended. Massage therapy is manipulating the tissues and muscles of the human body by applying pressure unto them. There are various types of massages, which you can choose from according to your requirement, based on why you need it for.
Kinesiology + Massage Therapy – Wait, what?
How does Kinesiology relate to massage therapy? The answer could easily be understood by an experience most of us might have had at one point in life. If a sudden injury happens and you end up in the hands of a friend or an inexperienced massage therapist, there is a fair chance that the pain would worsen under their touch. A massage therapist with knowledge of Kinesiology would know which muscles contract and which expand, how and where. Therefore, the manipulation they would apply on your skin would help the muscles to operate better and to ease up your pain. Kinesiology is the theory. Massage therapy is the practical application of that. This is the most basic idea, but wait there’s more!
What happens when Kinesiology mingles with Massage therapy?
When regular massage is done, two hands would rub you gently until pain, discomfort and soreness disappear. Kinesiologic massage is totally different. It studies separate muscles separately, knowing where to apply more pressure, and how to do it. When some muscles contract, the wrong kind of pressure applied to them would make the pain worse. Kinesiology knows exactly what to do, with what level of intensity.
There are more than 650 muscles in our body, all working in different ways. Registered massage therapists usually focus more on knee/shoulder/elbow joint muscles, neck and back muscles and limb muscles. In kinesiology, they study the special ways in which these muscles operate.
Human Kinetics vs Kinesiology
People tend to confuse Kinetics with Kinesiology, mainly because they have many similarities. Both the fields study about the human body, its movements, anatomy and better health.
The main difference between Kinesiology and Kinetics is the subject matter. Kinetics involve a lot of exercise, sport, athletics and coaching while Kinesiology has a much therapeutic and clinical touch to it. Kinesiology is closer to physiotherapy, whereas Kinetics is about physical performance.
Massage therapy might seem to be designed to relieve pain, but it has deeper intentions to it. One of the main teachings in massage therapy is understanding the concepts of body movement. Enhancing body movement is the goal of therapeutic Kinesiology.
An RMT (Registered Massage Therapist) is first taught about the muscles in the human body, and how to deal with them in varying situations. They practice performing strokes that release the tissue, which ultimately refines movement.
Therapeutic kinesiology has two main phases:
1. Assessment: After undergoing a few tests, (squat, pushup, hurdle etc.) the movement imbalances (if any) would be understood by the RMT. The tests are completely easy, and the RMT will immediately know if you have any weaknesses or abnormalities in your ways of handling the body. Such weaknesses would be recognized, and thus ends the assessment process.
2. Enhancement: Massage therapists cannot recommend exercise for you. Well technically, they can. But that is not what they exist for. After assessing the problems in your movement patterns, a massage therapist has a very special right to correct them through therapeutic treatment. For this, they need enhancement of movement. In other words, they need “kinesiology”.
Then you might ask: How can enhancing movement be blended with massage therapy? The answer is simple.
During therapeutic kinesiology, what happens basically is that the massage therapist requests you to perform certain body movements. You will be an active participant in the massage and will have to change positions accordingly. If anything bothers or hurts you, you always have the freedom to talk to the therapist about it.
Kinesiologic massage would be of a more significant medical value than that of a relaxation massage. The strokes are much focused, and you as a customer will have a part to do in it.
When someone is in pain, the brain tries to stop the hurt by stopping all communication with the injured body part. Massaging with movements would bring relief to the tensions in the affected area, helping it to function normally once again. Once the pain goes away, the movement will be restored. There! You have a perfect combination of movement (Kinesiology) and massage therapy
In a nutshell
Knowledge of kinesiology would be added qualifications to any massage therapist, because it is essential to know how different muscles operate to bring different results. Applying kinesiologic knowledge to massage therapy requires patience, accuracy and even creativity. If you are lucky to find a therapist who applies kinesiologic knowledge subtly into his massage, well then you are lucky enough!