Many people get referred to a Kinesiologist for rehabilitation and recovery, after a motor vehicle accident or work related injury, or as part of a return to work program. Most people know what to expect from a Physiotherapist and Massage Therapist, however, many are unfamiliar with Kinesiologists and are wondering “What is Kinesiology?”.
Let’s start with a definition of kinesiology: Kinesiology is the multi-disciplinary scientific study of human movement, performance and function that explores the physiological, biomechanical and psychological mechanisms of movement. It considers the impact physical activity has on health, society and the quality of life.
The Kinesiology Profession: What is a Kinesiologist?
Kinesiologists are university-educated health professionals who seek to enhance the quality of life for patients by applying principles of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and psychomotor behaviour to improve their functioning, performance and health. They evaluate physical issues and recommend solutions, helping patients to achieve health and wellness goals.
Practically speaking, kinesiologists employ evidence-based research in combination with assessment to assist human performance and prevent or rehabilitate injuries and other physiological problems.
Kinesiologists work in a variety of settings, including clinics and industry, and serve a wide range of clients, including professional or amateur athletes and senior citizens. They can help you with injury prevention, assessment and rehabilitation; treatment of chronic diseases; and preventative maintenance of your body.
What do Kinesiologists do?
Let’s take a closer look at the various services that Kinesiologist offer:
- Assessment and Active Rehabilitation. Whether you are injured in a car crash, at work or while playing soccer, a kinesiologist can help you through active rehabilitation. He or she will assess your physical function and craft a structured exercise program tailored to your individual situation that will allow you to return safely to your usual activities. People who have experienced heart attacks, strokes or traumatic brain injuries are ideal candidates for working with a kinesiologist.
- Ergonomics and Workplace Design. In the workplace, kinesiologists analyze the physical demands of specific jobs, evaluating the risk for musculoskeletal injury. They assess risk factors and adapt workplace conditions to minimize injury potential, including modifying or designing equipment and tools. They also help companies whose employees perform physical labour, kinesiologists often conduct education sessions discussing the proper postures for lifting, carrying and similar tasks as a way of preventing workplace injuries. They also design on-the-job warmup and stretching routines and may serve as coaches/supervisors for employees returning to work after injury or illness, ensuring they are properly integrated back into the workplace.
- Exercise Therapy. Their keen understanding of the mechanics of the human body makes kinesiologists ideal for helping design exercise regimens for people living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
- Sport Conditioning/High Performance Training. Who better to help athletes reach their peak performance than professionals who study the intricacies of motion? Kinesiologists can assist athletes of all stripes in improving their performance, whether they are Olympic swimmers trying to shave seconds off their best times or teenage hoping for a spot on the school team. Look to them to develop well-rounded programs that encompass sport-specific skills and overall fitness. With their help, athletes can expect to improve speed, power and agility.
Kinesiology in Canada: Colleges and Associations
Twenty-three of the 38 Canadian universities from coast to coast incorporate the term kinesiology into their faculty/department names or degree designations. Provinces have professional associations that represent and advocate for their members and develop scopes of practice for their members. In BC, the British Columbia Association of Kinesiologists or “BCAK” was incorporated in 1991.
Practising Kinesiologists: Requirements in BC
Practising Kinesiologists in BC are required to have a minimum 4-year degree in specialized kinesiology or human kinetics program from a recognized post-secondary institution. They are required to commit to ongoing yearly professional development and continuing education. Here are some of the skills kinesiologists bring to the table in assessing patients:
- A thorough knowledge of the indications and contraindications to exercise;
- A thorough knowledge regarding the design and implementation of safe and effective exercise prescriptions for healthy individuals;
- A comprehensive knowledge regarding the design and implementation of safe and effective exercise prescriptions for patients with chronic disease, functional limitations, and disabilities;
- A clear understanding of the influence of commonly used medications on the response to exercise;
- In-depth knowledge of acute and chronic responses and adaptations to exercise in healthy and clinical populations;
- An ability to determine when to terminate exercise testing or training; and
- A critical understanding of diagnostic stress testing protocols and procedures.
Now that you have a better understanding of this emerging discipline, don’t hesitate to call upon a practising kinesiologist to assist you in evaluating your current fitness, helping you to reach your athletic potential or restoring your mobility after injury or disease strike.