Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Bradenton FL & Parrish FL - Sports Medicine physician Florida USA

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Functional Kinesiology


300 years B.C., Aristotle termed the word kinesiology and is often referred to as the “Father of Kinesiology”.  Archimedes was the first to develop principles of fluid mechanics with the use of pulleys that enabled men to move ships. Claudius Galen was a Roman physician for gladiators often known as the first athletic team physician.


Kinesiology is the study of movement.

An athlete must unconsciously select the muscles which are going to be most effective for the task at hand. If the athlete is able to recruit more muscle groups, his effort becomes more effective and stronger.

The body is an excellent computer that allows turning on and off muscle in proper sequence. A gymnast doing a back somersault completes the task in less than one second but uses over a 100 muscles contracting and relaxing to create the desired movements fluidly.

The muscles contracting are called agonist whereas the opposing muscles that are relaxing are termed antagonist.

The central nervous system provides the stimulus for each particular nerve fiber to fire. The response is an all or nothing phenomenon and is based on whether the stimulus is strong enough to exceed the threshold of the fiber.

Muscle tissue comprises 40-50% of composition of the adult human body.

A muscle is best prepared for a forceful contraction if it is stretched approximately 1/3 beyond its resting length. This stretch is important because it creates a slight tension that acts as a tow rope to promote a forceful muscle contraction.

The body is supported in positions through two types of postures, dynamic and static. Postural muscles are anti-gravity muscles which include the extensors of the back, neck and legs. These muscles contract for the body to maintain an upright erect position.

The abdominal muscles function to prevent the sag of visceral organs. Less important but also involved in postures are the neck and trunk flexors, the abductors and adductors and the muscles of the feet.

Postural muscles receive constant feedback and stimulation to perform their function. The stimulus for contraction occurs from two main sources being stretch reflexes as well as the five righting reflexes.

The stretch reflexes are initiated from the skeletal muscles that assess proper tone, length and tension to maintain posture.


The five righting reflexes are as follows:

1) Optical righting reflex

2) Body righting reflex acting on the body

3) Body righting reflex acting on the head

4) Neck righting reflexes

5) Labyrinthine righting reflexes


The righting reflexes are best demonstrated in newborns and infants as they utilize these reflexes to maintain posture and basic functional movement. These reflexes are still prevalent in the adult and can be incorporated to optimize specific functional tasks.


Should you have any further questions regarding this article, please direct your questions or comments to "Ask the Doctor" section.


Copyright © 2004 - 2012Taras V. Kochno, M.D.  All Rights Reserved
Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation