Kinesiology: What Does It Mean?
Kinesiology comes from the Greek word meaning movement. Of course, in order to accomplish movement, muscles are needed. Kinesiology, from the perspective of alternative medicine, is the study of muscles and how they effect health.
When most of us think of muscles we usually think of the muscles we can feel just under the skin. But muscles can be found all throughout the body. Most of the blood vessels are surrounded by muscle which control constriction and dilation. Most of the digestive tract is surrounded by muscles which are responsible for moving food down the tract. The stomach is surrounded by muscle which helps in mechanical digestion. The heart is a muscle that is responsible for circulating blood. All the tubes (trachea, bronchioles) taking air to the lungs are surrounded by muscle. It is believed that strong, flexible, and balanced muscles play an important role in maintaining health.
There are several factors that can result in weak or malfunctioning muscles:
- Acute or chronic injury
- Damage to the nerves of that muscle
- Blood flow restriction
- Weakness through lack of use (hypo trophy)
It is also believed that certain skeletal muscles have relationships with specific organs. When an organ is not working well symptoms may manifest with the corresponding muscle not working properly. The theory is that if that muscle can be strengthened than this will assist the organ in healing.
There are numerous conditions which can be helped with this type of alternative medicine. Some examples include:
- Muscle, joint, and bone injuries
- Poor digestion
- Menstrual pain
- Hay fever
Balancing of muscles is crucial to proper skeletal health. For example, if the chest muscles are proportionally stronger than the upper back muscles it will result in hunched shoulders and poor posture. This in turn can lead to chronic back injury. Or, stronger quadriceps, compared to weak hamstrings, can lead to lower back injuries, or knee injuries.
Similarly, a stiff muscle can have similar effects on the joint it controls by causing things to become misaligned. For example, if the muscles on the outer thigh are stiff, they can pull on the patella (knee cap) and cause it to be misaligned which can cause a painful condition.
Muscle is also a highly metabolically active tissue. Meaning, it is involved in metabolic processes even when you are at rest. Low muscle mass can result in excess fat gain, and a lower metabolic rate. Muscle is also beneficial for creating body heat in cold conditions.