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.

Examining—and Ignoring—Cause and Effect

Cause and effect is a natural law. It’s hard to dispute that one thing leads to another, especially when the links in a chain of events are short and close together. When they are long and far apart, it’s more difficult to see any connection between two events. It’s also easy to deny any connection whatsoever. In that case, it’s easy—intentional or not—to misattribute a cause to an event.

Two current events are examples. Today, the Republican Party begins the process to select a candidate to run for President of the United States. Listening to the news this morning about the Iowa Caucus (not to mention news from the past few years), it’s easy to detect the Republican theme that we have to get rid of Barack Obama to “turn this country around.” The implication is that Obama is the cause of the poor state of the economy and everything else they find wrong with this country. 

Does no one in the Republican Party remember (or care to admit) that the stock market crashed—losing 50% of its value—in October 2008? George W. Bush was President then. Barack Obama was only a candidate. Does no one remember (or care to admit) that economic policies of the Bush administration made Enron possible? 

The other event is far removed from the political arena. But perhaps it shouldn’t be. On January 1, a man shot and killed a park ranger on Mt. Rainier in Washington State after wounding several others at a party. These kinds of tragedies happen a lot all over the world. Some people are unbalanced, angry, frustrated, vengeful, hateful, and will do any number of terrible things to others. Who knows what causes lurk behind such acts?

Yet, one thing about this story that sticks out, begging the question of Why? The shooter was Iraq War veteran who was apparently suicidal and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. We don’t know what this person was like before he went to war. But we do know that when he came home he had trouble adjusting to civilian life. His wife had a restraining order against him because she feared for her own safety as well as that of their child. 

Can you imagine, all those years ago when George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and many others were planning their attack on Iraq that they could have seen the consequences of their actions? Suppose someone in the war room said, “If we go ahead with this, on January 1, 2012, a park ranger with two children will be murdered by one of our soldiers.” Would it have mattered?

The law of cause and effect is always at work. And it’s human nature to ignore it just as it’s human nature to ignore an inconvenient stop sign.

%d bloggers like this: