KINESIOLOGY [ki-nee-see-OL-uh-jee]: the study of the way in which one’s body structure determines movement

With all the visibility of the XXX Olympics it is hard to let an evening go by without thinking about the unbelievable capabilities of the human body.   Watching the athletes bend, stretch, reach, and twist in incredible feats of athleticism, one can only marvel at the creation of the body.

None of this would be possible without training and conditioning which stems from an extensive knowledge of the science known as kinesiology, the study of the way in which the body moves.  I am minimally aware of this from my involvement with my physical therapist who explains to me the reason my leg or my back can’t move freely.   His work with specific muscles, tendons and ligaments helps to free me up to increase my flexibility.   Because he understands kinesiology. 

Every now and then he gives me a tutorial, using all those beautiful words that physical therapists know and understand.  I’m awed that he and his colleagues know exactly where to find a specific part of the body and how to stretch it or bend it to achieve maximum flexibility.   Lapsing into my theological being, I’m awed that a human body is created in a way that it is possible to know exactly where a specific part of the body is placed, how it works, and what its capabilities are.  This thing we call creation is impressive.

Movement is not an essential to human existence.   There are human beings who, because of accidents or birth issues, are unable to move, but are able to live their lives immobile.   They can do that only with the assistance of others, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have meaningful lives.

But for the great bulk of the human race, movement is a given.   It is only when something causes our movement to be limited that we become aware of the gift of flexibility that has been built into our bodies.   I’ve told the story numerous times about the public building I managed in my former life which was inaccessible to persons with a disability.  In order to enter the main portion of the historic building one had to climb three steps.   Repeatedly I requested that the governing board redesign the entry t0 eliminate the barrier.  But it was only when one of the governing leaders had a ski accident and broke his leg that the story turned.  His temporary disability made it almost impossible to get into the building without some degrading assistance by others.   Within a short time the steps were removed and a beautiful, artistic ramp was designed and created which actually enhanced the front of the building.   It took a ski accident to bring the message home about the limitation of the human body when one’s kinesiology was altered.

I am awed by the near-perfection of the athletes in the Olympics.  But even more so, I am inspired to follow the instructions of my physical therapist, do my exercises, and attempt to achieve better flexibility on this aging structure.  My kinesiology is crying out for attention.

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Illustration credit: L. DaVinci

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