The general definition of kinesiology is the study of muscles, movement and the impact of physical activity on health. Academic kinesiology training often concentrates on exercise science or sports physiology. However, kinesiology in the context of complementary medicine—a field known as applied kinesiology—is a holistic treatment
approach that uses muscle testing in order to zero in on health problems throughout the body. The kinesiologist then determines appropriate physical therapies, herbal medicine, dietary changes or other treatment methods to address the patient's health issues and prevent future problems. Kinesiology school attracts a wide range of practitioners interested in holistic health, particularly chiropractors, naturopathic and conventional medical doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists and nurses.
Kinesiology school graduates can be found throughout the health care and bodywork industries. But what all of these kinesiology careers have in common is their focus on using muscles as a diagnostic tool to pinpoint issues in the nervous system, lymphatic system, energy pathways and other body systems. Kinesiologists use conventional diagnostic methods like laboratory tests as well as assessments that look at the structure and function of the musculoskeletal system—posture analysis, motion analysis and manual testing for areas of muscle weakness. When the underlying source of the muscle weakness or movement issue has been identified, the practitioner may suggest physical therapies, medical treatments or herbal supplements to address the problem.
Training and Education
What You'll Study in Kinesiology School
A basic course at kinesiology school is usually aimed at practicing health professionals and covers topics such as biomechanics, how to perform muscle testing, clinical nutrition, diagnosis of sports injuries, and appropriate holistic treatments for a range of physical and emotional issues.
Average Length of Study
For most kinesiology degrees approved by the International College of Applied Kinesiology, basic training includes 100 hours of study. More advanced study to become a "Diplomate" means 300 additional hours of instruction plus examinations.
Basic kinesiology training usually costs between $1100 and $2200 for first-time certification applicants. Fees may also vary depending on whether you are a practitioner or still a student.
Although the 100 hours of basic training qualifies health care and bodywork professionals to practice applied kinesiology, Diplomate-level certification requires 300 hours of advanced courses at a kinesiology school approved by the International College of Applied Kinesiology. In addition, medical, massage therapy, and health care professionals must meet appropriate state licensing requirements for their profession in order to use their kinesiology training in a clinical or therapeutic setting.
Kinesiology Career Outlook
According to research collected by the International College of Applied Kinesiology, each year brings more positive findings on the effectiveness of kinesiology training as a complementary diagnostic tool. And, as more Americans begin to rely on holistic and preventive medicine for their overall wellness, kinesiologists have reason to be optimistic about their job outlook. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts particularly good employment prospects for chiropractors (15 percent), massage therapists (23 percent) and physical therapists (36) percent).
Graduates of kinesiology school may practice in a variety of professions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for massage therapists is $35,970; for chiropractors, $66,160; and for physical therapists, $79,860. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.
Is a Kinesiology Career Right for You?
The chiropractor George Goodheart first developed applied kinesiology in the 1960s, believing strongly in its value as a tool of direct feedback about the body's health. Now, a wide range of health care and bodywork professionals are seeing the value of kinesiology as a holistic method of diagnosis and treatment that takes into account a patient's chemical, mental and structural health in equal measure. Kinesiology school may be a good choice if you have an interest in preventive medicine and complementary diagnostic methods.
Sources: American Kinesiology Association, Applied kinesiology. AltMD, Applied Kinesiology Center of Los Angeles, Ciprian Educational Systems – Professional Seminars, International College of Applied Kinesiology.