When This Is, That Is

Exploring the world of conditionality

Teaching Kinesiology

One of my jobs (doesn’t everyone have more than one?) is teaching at Oregon School of Massage. I teach a class called kinesiology to aspiring massage therapists.

Kinesiology is the study human movement, so for me and my students, that means bones, joints, and muscles. Lots of muscles. 

I teach two classes, one covering muscles of the upper extremities (arms) and trunk, the other covering muscles of the lower extremities (hips and legs). Oregon School of Massage has two campuses, one in Portland and one in Salem. I teach at both—Tuesdays in Salem and Wednesdays in Portland. 

Massage therapy is usually thought of as a luxury, something people do to relax. In advertisements, people—women, mostly—are shown receiving a massage in some spa-like setting. But it’s much more than that. Many soft-tissue injuries—for the most part meaning muscles and connective tissue—are best treated by massage. Outside of massage, achy and strained muscles are treated with pain relievers and muscle relaxants, which are not always the best choice. Especially when there are so many other benefits of massage therapy.

So it stands to reason that massage therapists need to know about the muscles they work on. Most states regulate massage therapy and have strict requirements about what’s included in a student’s education. In Oregon, broad knowledge of kinesiology is one of those requirements. That’s where I come in.

I’ve taught kinesiology for more than eight years now. It’s one of the more difficult classes for massage students. A lot of memorization is necessary—where a given muscle connects on which bones and what the muscle does. A few muscles have only two attachments and do only one thing, but most of them have many attachments and are active in several different movements. Students need a grasp of many concepts as well. So for some students, it’s difficult to put it all together.

It’s similar to acting in a play, I tell my students. An actor who merely memorizes lines and recites them rote will not give a good performance. Good performances come from actors who can make their lines come alive. Memorizing a long list of muscles and their attachments and actions will get a student only so far. Massage is a skill to be developed, just as acting is.

A requirement for licensure is passing the dreaded Practical Exam conducted by the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists. The practical covers several areas, including massage technique, communication, pathology, and kinesiology. It’s the kinesiology part that freaks people out the most. 

You can read more about my involvement with OSM and a lot of other stuff about me and  some of my other jobs here, in an article written by owner and president Ray Siderius.

2 Responses to Teaching Kinesiology

  1. Paul Gerhards says:

    Colette, it’s good to hear from you. I’m glad to know you’re doing so well with your massage practice. Thank you for all your kind words. It’s gratifying to learn that my class was of so much benefit to you.

  2. One of the best classes I took while being at OSM!!! I love Kinesiology!! So true in just the memorizing. It is so much more than that and one of the most interesting classes, in my own opinion, at OSM.

    Once, one starts to learn where the muscles are located attached and the movements they make, that is just the beginning. What I have learned not only through Paul’s class, has been so instrumental in my practice today, but the entire program at OSM has been put together where one will learn precept upon precept. Then it’s up to us to take the things that the awesome instructors teach us and move forward in it.

    There is so much more in learning Kinesiology than I ever thought or could imagine! Since learning in the fantastic teaching inviornment in Paul’s class, I grew a love for Kinesiology!!!! I am still learning and always looking for more books and ways on movement that I can read and practice on clients in order to help them.

    I would say this is the class to learn and learn it as best you can. It is the one that will help you to help anyone that comes to you with muscular pain, with pain management.

    With the knowledge that I learned in this informative class as well as taking CE on stretching techniques among other CE classes from OSM, there is no end to what we can learn so we can help others as well as ourselves with pain management. There is so much more that I have yet to learn when it come to Kinesiology, but looking forward to that life long process.

    Paul is an excellent Kinesiology Instructor. relaxing environment, that allows you to learn without pressure, and has the most incredible wonderful, dry wit 🙂 Wish I could take the class again LOL…

    Don’t let others tell you that it’s the hardest class to learn. Wonderfully challenging, however, not the hardest!! Especially if you enjoy learning the flow and movement of how the body is so intricately and wonderfully put together.

    How incredibly interesting the muscles, are attached in certain area’s to make more than one particular movement!! ( fantastic class and one of the best two classes I took while at OSM) The body is amazing, and taking this class along with Anatomy and Physiology, gave me an entire new appreciation on the way our body works together with each muscle, muscle groups, and joints that enables us all to move.

    Once we learn the beginning of how and where the muscles, and groups are attached, what shortens and lengthens each one, we are then prepared and able to start to help those that come to us with pain, show them things that they can do to help themselves with their own pain management between massages. 🙂

    Once you take this class and pass, you will feel confident in being able to draw those muscles at the State Board when taking your test for licensing.

    Couldn’t ask for a better instructor! Everything Paul does in his class is to help you to pass your test, but not only that… he looks ahead to help you learn for when you start your own business or working for someone.

    Throw yourself into it, study those muscles groups, movements, attachments sites, ( learn the names of them) I heard that all we have to do now is point to sites at board, but learn the attachments name. It really is interesting!! think ahead as you are learning each movement, the opposite of what they do. 🙂 You can do it and have FUN!! 🙂 One of the best class and school to prepare for the board and just overall one of the best times of my life attending Oregon School of Massage. Changed my life!!! Colette Mitchell LMT and graduate from Oregon School of Massage

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