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Kinaesthetics (or kinesthetics, in American English) is the study of body motion, and of the perception (both conscious and unconscious) of one's own body motions.[1] Kinesthesis is the learning of movements that an individual commonly performs (Edwards, 2011). The individual must repeat the motions that they are trying to learn and perfect many times for this to happen. Many people say that kinesthesis is muscle memory but it is not true because your muscles can’t actually remember anything, it is the proprioceptors giving the information from your muscles to your brain (Edwards, 2011). To do this, the individual must have a sense of the position of their body and how that changes throughout the motor skill they are trying to perform. While performing the motion the body will use receptors in the muscles to transfer information to the brain to tell the brain about what the body is doing. Then after completing the same motor skill numerous times, the brain will begin to remember the motion based on the position of the body at a given time. Then after learning the motion the body will be able perform the motor skill even when usual senses are inhibited, such as the person closing their eyes. The body will perform the motion based on the information that is stored in the brain from previous attempts at the same movement (Sahyouni, 2013). This is possible because the brain has formed connections between the location of body parts in space (the body uses perception to learn where their body is in space [Freeman, 2008])and the subsequent movements that commonly follow these positions (Sahyouni, 2013). It becomes almost an instinct. The person does not need to even think about what they are doing to perfect the skill, they have done it so many times that it feels natural and requires little to no thought. When the kinesthetic system has learned a motor skill proficiently, it will be able to work even when ones vision is limited (Pinzon, Vega, Sanchez, & Zheng 2017). The perception of continuous movement (kinesthesia) is largely unconscious. A conscious proprioception is achieved through increased awareness. Kinaesthetics involves the teaching and personal development of such awareness.

Therapeutic applications[edit]

Occupational therapy and physical therapy based on movement-associated awareness has been applied in the Western world since the mid-1980s, especially in Central European care facilities. It makes use of the psychophysiological finding that greater muscle tone reduces proprioceptive sensitivity.[2] Kinaesthetics may benefit patients who need:

Daily Life applications[edit]

The kinesthetic system is important with performing many motor skills, one being driving a car. If the body could not instantly remember what to do, driving would be very dangerous. When first starting to drive, all new drivers lack this ability to quickly respond because they have never been in situations like this before (Bates, Davey, Watson, King, & Armstrong, 2014). The more they drive and are faced with similar situations, the more they get used to how to react and the more it becomes an instinct. By everyone knowing what they are doing when it comes to turning and stopping, it makes driving on the road safer. People can focus on what is in front of them incase their environment suddenly changes instead of focusing on how to turn the wheel or press on the brakes.


Kinaesthetics-founders Lenny Maietta and Frank Hatch (2011)

Kinaesthetics was developed in the early 1970s by Frank White Hatch, who was a choreographer and dancer. Hatch studied behavioral cybernetics at Madison/Wisconsin and developed academic programs for movement and dance called Kinaesthetics in three American universities.[3] He then turned to working with disabled children as well as the field of rehabilitation. Psychologist Lenny Maietta (1950-2018) developed a handling-training program for young parents that was also based on behavioral cybernetics.[4] Hatch & Maietta taught and worked together in German-speaking countries beginning in 1974. With the dancer John Graham, they held workshops under the name of Gentle Dance.

Maietta & Hatch used Kinaesthetics-seminars the first time as therapy in the Ernest-Holmes Fachklinik in Germany 1974-77. Together with registered nurse Suzanne Bernard Schmidt, Maietta & Hatch developed a job-specific program "Kinaesthetics in Nursing." They were in dialogue and exchange with Gregory Bateson, Moshe Feldenkrais, Berta and Karel Bobath, Liliane Juchli, and Nancy Roper. In addition to behavioral cybernetics and dance, movement therapy and humanistic psychology were named as key sources of kinaesthetics.

Maietta & Hatch are still actively involved in the development of Kinaesthetics.[5] In the last years, programs for caregivers, for workplace health and for older people especially were developed. Currently there are four organizations in which Kinaesthetics-programs are developed.[6]


  • Asmussen, M. (2010) (in German), Praxisbuch Kinaesthetics. Erfahrungen zur individuellen Bewegungsunterstützung auf Basis der Kinästhetik (2. ed.), München: Elsevier, ISBN 978-3-437-27570-8 
  • Bauder-Mißbach, H.; Eisenschink A. M.; Kirchner, E. (2009) (in German), Kinästhetische Mobilisation. Wie Pflegekräfte die Genesung unterstützen können - eine Studie am Universitätsklinikum Ulm, Hannover: Schlütersche, ISBN 3-87706-736-0 
  • Brandt, I., ed. (2008) (in German), Pflegetechniken heute. Pflegehandeln Schritt für Schritt verstehen, S. 232-247 (2., vollst. überarb. ed.), München: Urban & Fischer, ISBN 978-3-437-27091-8 
  • Citron, I. (2004) (in German), Kinästhetik - Kommunikatives Bewegungslernen, Stuttgart: Thieme, ISBN 3-13-111862-8 
  • Hatch, F.; Maietta, L.; Schmidt, S. (1992) (in German), Kinästhetik. Interaktion durch Berührung und Bewegung in der Pflege (4., überarb. ed.), Eschborn: DBfK Verlag, ISBN 978-3927944022 
  • Hatch, F.; Maietta, L. (2003) (in German), Kinästhetik. Gesundheitsentwicklung und menschliche Funktionen (2. ed.), München: Urban & Fischer bei Elsevier, ISBN 3-437-26840-6 
  • Hatch, F.; Maietta, L. (2011) (in German), Kinaesthetics. Infant Handling (2., durchges. ed.), Bern: Huber, ISBN 978-3-456-84987-4 


  • Asmussen-Clausen, M. / Knobel, S. (2006): Fortbewegen statt heben - Kinästhetik in der Pflegepraxis (DVD)
  • Asmussen-Clausen, M. / Buschmann, U. (2004): Kinästhetik Infant Handling - Bewegungsunterstützung in den ersten Lebensjahren (DVD)
  • Bauder-Mißbach, H. (2008): "Grundlagen der Bewegungsförderung " (DVD)
  • Marty-Teuber, M. (2000): Ermöglichen statt Behindern - Kinaesthetics ein Lern- und Interaktionsmodell (DVD)


  1. ^ Hatch; Maietta 2003, p.5.
  2. ^ Roier (2013) p.148.
  3. ^ Hatch 1972
  4. ^ Maietta 1986
  5. ^ MH-Kinaesthetics (= Maietta-Hatch Kinaesthetics)
  6. ^ Kinaesthetics-Organizations


  1. Hatch, F. W. (1973): A behavioral cybernetic interpretation of dance and dance culture. Madison, University of Wisconsin, Thesis.
  2. Hatch, F.; Maietta, L. (2003): Kinästhetik. Gesundheitsentwicklung und menschliche Funktionen. 2. ed. Urban & Fischer bei Elsevier, Munich, ISBN 3-437-26840-6
  3. Maietta, L. (1986): The effects of handling training on parent-infant interaction and infant development. Santa Barbara, The fielding institute, Thesis.
  4. Roier, M. (2013). "Kinästhetik - Konzept und Einsatzmöglichkeiten in Gesundheitsberufen". Handbuch für Gesundheitsberufe III. Ergonomie. Wien. pp. 147–158. doi:10.5281/zenodo.1036001. ISBN 978-3-9501360-3-6. Retrieved 21 November 2017.

Bates, L. J., Davey, J., Watson, B., King, M. J., & Armstrong, K. (2014, July 24). Factors Contributing to Crashes among Young Drivers. Retrieved from

Edwards, W. H. (2011). Motor learning and control: From theory to practice (76-78). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Freeman, W. J. (2008). Perception of time and causation through the kinesthesia of intentional action. Integrative Psychological & Behavioral Science, 42(2), 137-143.

Pinzon, D., Vega, R., Sanchez, Y. P., & Zheng, B. (2017). Skill learning from kinesthetic feedback. American Journal Of Surgery, 214(4), 721-725.

Sahyouni, R. (2013, October). Proprioception and Kinesthesia. Retrieved from

Further reading[edit]