Do the words “origin and insertion” or “kinesiology” initiate feelings of fear and anxiety as you prepare for the MBLEx?
You are certainly not alone.
Most often, when I receive a call from somebody with a case of the last minute exam jitters, it’s because of kinesiology.
When I read an email from somebody who has been out of school a while and needs to complete a licensing exam, typically the first thing they mention is agony over the thought of trying to remember the origin, insertion, and actions of all the muscles again.
Kinesiology is the section of the MBLEx where you will be tested over your knowledge of the origin, insertion, and actions of muscles. Mastering kinesiology will also help you gain a deeper understanding of your future client’s pain and dysfunction, as well as targeting specific muscles you need to address.
But right now, I am sure the only thing you can think about is passing the MBLEx. Fear of kinesiology should not keep you from taking the MBLEx or achieving your dream of becoming a massage therapist. Much of your fear and anxiety is from not knowing where to begin when tackling this subject. Let’s take care of that problem now.
In this post I will:
- Explain what you need to know about the subject of kinesiology for exam day.
- Give you some tips and resources for learning kinesiology based on your learning style.
- Help you work through a couple kinesiology practice questions.
Bonus: Kinesiology Study Kit
Free resources and guidance to help prepare you for kinesiology on the MBLEx. Delivered straight to your inbox.
First, what is Kinesiology?
Kinesiology is the scientific study of human movement.
This is not the same as, and should not be confused with, “applied kinesiology.” Applied kinesiology is a controversial, alternative diagnosis technique developed by George J. Goodheart. That last sentence is likely all you need to know about applied kinesiology for the MBLEx.
I would not expect to be tested on kinesiology taping techniques either, since the MBLEx is an entry-level exam. However, I would know what kinesiology taping is and what it looks like.
What to expect on the MBLEx
Currently, the subject of kinesiology makes up 12% of the MBLEx exam. This means approximately twelve of the questions pulled for your exam will pertain to the subject of kinesiology. That does not mean your exam will have twelve question or origins, insertions, and actions.
Kinesiology is more than just origins, insertion, and actions.
The FSMTB’s breaks down Kinesiology in their MBLEx Content Outline like this:
- Components and characteristics of muscles
- Components and characteristics of muscles
- Concepts of muscle contractions
- Locations, attachments (origin, insertion), actions and fiber directions of muscles
- Joint structure and function
- Range of motion
Prepare to be tested on the concepts of kinesiology in other sections
Questions requiring your kinesiology knowledge will likely extend beyond the kinesiology section of the MBLEx. For example, the client assessment portion of the MBLEx may contain questions where your kinesiology skills will again be tested.
As you assess a client through a joint’s range of motion, what action is causing their pain? Can you pinpoint the dysfunctional muscle, or rule out a muscle, by this action? The MBLEx will test your ability to work through clinical assessment situations. You will need to transition your textbook knowledge of kinesiology to your massage table.
Kinesiology Study Tips
Now that we have covered what you may be tested on, what can you do to learn the principles of kinesiology?
Memorization and Flashcards for Origin, Insertion, and Actions
Flashcards have been shown to be incredibly helpful for retention of facts, both short and long term. Through repetition, you will never forget that Rhomboid Major inserts at the lower one-third of vertebral border of the scapula and brings the shoulder blades together (scapular adduction).
Read and reread the Kinesiology section in all of your textbooks and study guides.
For most people, I do not recommend reading each book cover to cover. Use Post-it notes to mark the kinesiology section in all of your study guides and textbooks, and review this section in each book before moving on to the next area of study.
Visual, Kinesthetic, or Artsy?
Seeing the origin and insertions on people is helpful for visual and kinesthetic learners.
Another activity I enjoyed was using clay to make muscles and applying them to a small skeleton.
Watch muscles in Action
KenHub’s YouTube Channel is an excellent resource for any massage therapist, especially visual and audio learners.
Review multiple choice strategy
As you take the MBLEx, it may seem there is more than one correct answer, especially in the kinesiology section. Learn how to work through a question to choose the “best” answer. You can view my article on multiple choice strategy here.
Kinesiology Practice questions
Below, are a few kinesiology practice questions for you to work through.
What is the origin of Tensor fascia latae?
- Iliac crest
- Iliotibial band into the tibia and fibula
- ASIS and Iliac crest
The origin of TFL is the iliac crest and ASIS. Remember, you need to choose the best answer.
Which muscle’s insertion is NOT on the lesser trochanter of the femur?
- Psoas Major
Gracilis, which means “slender” in Latin, inserts at the medial, upper tibia.
What is the action of this muscle?
- Draws scapula backward and upward; abducts scapula and rotates it; stabilizes lateral border of scapula
- Draws scapula forward and downward; abducts scapula and rotates it; stabilizes vertebral border of scapula
- Draws scapula forward and upward; adducts scapula and rotates it; stabilizes medial border of scapula
- Draws scapula forward and upward; abducts scapula and rotates it; stabilizes vertebral border of scapula
Serratus Anterior draws scapula forward and upward; abducts scapula and rotates it; stabilizes vertebral border of scapula. It originates at the surfaces of upper 8 or 9 ribs and inserts at the vertebral/medial border of scapula. It is the antagonist to the rhomboids.
Proprioceptors are sensors that provide information about:
- joint angle
- muscle length
- muscle tension
- all of the above
Proprioceptors are sensors that provide information about joint angle, muscle length, and muscle tension. They give feedback about where a muscle is in its environment. The muscle spindle provides information about changes in muscle length. The Golgi tendon organ provides information about changes in muscle tension.
A type of contraction where there is no change in the muscle’s length.
- Isometric and Eccentric
There is no change in muscle’s length during an isometric contraction. Eccentric contractions are lengthening contractions. Concentric contractions are shortening contractions.
Ready to study?
At Massage Exam Academy, I have put together an online MBLEx prep package that helps you work on all areas of the MBLEx, including Kinesiology. Kinesiology portions of the program include:
Over 1000 Kinesiology Questions for Practice Quizzes and Exam Simulations
140 Origin, Insertion and Action Online Flash Cards
Dedicated Kinesiology Section in my MBLEx Study Guide
You can learn more about the Massage Exam Academy program right here.