Taken from the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK) Version 1.0

Section 210.3 Kinesiology

Knowledge, skills and abilities of movement as it relates to the anatomy and physiology of the human body.

Knowledge: Understand movement, relevant anatomic structures and physiological concepts as well as terminology. Body positions and movements

• Anatomic position.
• Relative positions.
• Body planes.
• Axes.
• Levers.
• Types of joint movement.
- Single joint movements.
- Complex movements.

Body mechanics of the client/patient

• Awareness of posture, use of body weight and movement and their effect on determining massage therapy techniques and application.
• Balance, equilibrium and stability as they relate to movement and function.
• Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and their relation to the client’s /patient’s quantity and quality of movement and tissue status/tension.

Joint structure and function in relation to kinesthetic theories

Terms of motion

• Force.
• Line of force.
• Motions such as flexion, extension, rotation, abduction, adduction and circumduction.

Components and characteristics of skeletal muscle tissue and the resulting effect on posture and movement

• Types of skeletal muscle contractions.
• Locations, attachments, origin and insertion (See Appendix A: Muscle List).
• Actions of skeletal muscles.
• Skeletal muscle size, shape and fiber direction.
• Stretch reflexes and responses.
• Elasticity.
• Contractility.
• Excitability.
• Extensibility.

Muscular interaction

• Agonists/prime movers.
• Antagonists.
• Synergists.
• Fixators/stabilizers.
• Impact of influences, such as imbalance of length and strength between agonist, antagonist, fixators/stabilizers or synergists


• Understand the anatomy, physiology and pathology of fascia.
• Describe how fascia covers and connects all the structures of the human body.
• Understand the characteristics of plasticity and tensegrity inherent in fascia [54, 55, 77].

Range of motion (ROM)

• Types of ROM-- active, passive, assisted and resistive.
• Classification of joints.
• Synovial joint movements.
• Joint play and end feel.
• End feel: hard, firm, soft, vacant.
• Joint range of movement and considerations of normal limits.
• Approximation of attachments by way of movement at the joint or by manual shortening of muscle.


• Effects on tissue structure and function.
• Purpose and uses.
• Active.
• Passive.
• Active assisted.
• Active resisted.

Resistive range of motion

• Isometric.
• Isotonic.
- Eccentric action.
- Concentric action.
• Reciprocal inhibition.
• Post-isometric relaxation or contract relax.
• Effects on tissue structure and function.
• Purpose and uses.

Posture and movement

• Healthy and pathologic.
• Compensatory patterns.
- Muscular adaptations.
- Concept of symmetry.
- Stability, instability and fixations.


• Define kinematic and kinetic principles as they relate to the practice of massage therapy.


• Palpate bony attachments, muscle bellies, tendons and ligaments.
• Demonstrate primary actions of muscles and joints.(see Appendix A: Muscle List).
• Apply stretch and isometric resistance for all major muscles of the body.
• Demonstrate appropriate mechanics to facilitate development of normal client/ patient posture and movement in their activities of daily living (ADLs).
• Demonstrate use of ROM principles in properly mobilizing joints for purposes of assessment, treatment planning and treatment.
• Demonstrate use of passive and resistive actions as assessment and treatment applications.
• Use techniques to sense and release restricted fascia.


• Evaluate general movement compensatory patterns and develop a treatment plan to address the findings.
• Evaluate posture, symmetry and movement patterns on a client/patient and apply appropriate massage treatments.
• Demonstrate verbally directing a client/patient to actively shorten/lengthen all major muscles of the body to support assessment and treatment.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.