Note: Applied Kinesiology is different from kinesiology and biomechanics, which involve the study of body movement. Some studies in the fields of kinesthiology, biomechanics, and manipulative therapy use the term "Applied Kinesiology" to refer to processes entirely unrelated to the diagnostic technique known as Applied Kinesiology. The term "muscle testing" is used in some studies; this usage of this term in these studies is completely unrelated to the usage of that term as a synonym for Applied Kinesiology.
Applied Kinesiology (AK) is a technique that uses muscle testing with the aim to diagnose nutritional deficiencies and health problems. It is based on the concept that weakness in certain muscles corresponds to specific disease states or body imbalances. AK practitioners may diagnose organ dysfunction, energy blockage, or allergies (including those to foods and drugs). Edukinesthesia is a type of AK that is used to detect the cause of learning difficulties and poor concentration.
Some AK practitioners assert that this technique can be used to treat conditions by rectifying imbalances in the body.
AK was developed in the 1960s by George Goodheart Jr., a chiropractor who asserted that postural distortions can be associated with weak muscles. He suggested that with his assessment technique, interventions could be identified and tested based on their ability to make muscles stronger and change postural distortions. Currently, AK may be practiced by chiropractors, naturopaths, medical doctors, dentists, nutritionists, physical therapists, massage therapists, nurse practitioners, or other providers. The International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK), founded in the 1970s, has established standards of practice for this form of assessment based on the work of Goodheart.
There is limited scientific research on Applied Kinesiology, and published studies have not established specific links between muscle responses and diseases affecting the organs. Applied Kinesiology is not recommended as a sole diagnostic tool in cases when other tests have been shown to be effective. If Applied Kinesiology is used alone, there may be a risk that disease will remain undetected and untreated.
AK practitioners may evaluate the health status of patients according to three health factors: chemical, mental, and structural. It is proposed that ill health may result from an imbalance in these factors. The practice of AK may be followed by joint manipulation or mobilization, myofascial therapies, cranial techniques, meridian therapy, clinical nutrition, dietary management, or reflex procedures. Environmental or food sensitivities may be evaluated by muscle testing.
Some practitioners believe that the energetic qualities of a substance influence a patient's energy field during the application of an AK technique. This in turn affects the amount of muscle strength that is demonstrated yielding information about whether the substance would strengthen or weaken the person. The theory of how this would occur is not clearly defined. The placebo effect has also been proposed for AK's perceived effectiveness.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Study results are mixed in this area. Further research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
Applied Kinesiology has been used to attempt to diagnose malfunction in the internal organs and the glands. Early evidence suggests it may yield conclusions comparable to those of conventional means of evaluation in thyroid dysfunction. However, there are not enough data on which to base any conclusions for this use of Applied Kinesiology.
Applied Kinesiology, when used along with physical manipulation, massage, homeopathy, herbal remedies, and neuro-linguistic programming, showed some positive results in dyslexic children; however the effect of Applied Kinesiology alone cannot be isolated from the other therapies.
AK is commonly used to diagnose food intolerances. However, early research is unclear in this area.
Early research suggests that kinesthetic training does not improve handwriting or kinesthesis in young children. More study is needed in this area.
Early studies suggest that Applied Kinesiology may be an effective and well tolerated treatment for breast pain. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Ménière's disease is a disorder that consists of dizziness, nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, and progressive deafness due to swelling in the inner ear. Early research suggests that poor balance in patients with Ménière's disease may improve with rotational exercises. Further evidence is needed before a clear recommendation can be made.
Applied Kinesiology has been used to diagnose a variety of allergies, but little research has been done in this area. Early evidence suggests it is not a reliable means of assessment of wasp venom allergy.
Applied Kinesiology is commonly used to "ask" the body whether or not it has a specific nutritional deficiency. Early evidence suggests it is not a reliable means to assess nutrient status.
* Key to grades
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use B: Good scientific evidence for this use C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work) F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)
Tradition / Theory
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Applied Kinesiology is generally believed to be free of direct adverse effects, although the potential exists for it to be harmful indirectly by delaying the appropriate diagnosis of serious conditions. Applied Kinesiology should not be relied upon as the sole diagnostic or therapeutic approach to potentially serious conditions instead of more proven methods, and it should not delay the time it takes to speak with a qualified healthcare provider about such conditions.
There may be risks involved in relying solely on Applied Kinesiology for the treatment of learning disabilities in children, diabetes, food allergies or cancer.
There is not enough evidence available to suggest that Applied Kinesiology is safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Bull L. Sunflower therapy for children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia): a randomised, controlled trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2007;13(1):15-24.
Caruso W, Leisman G. The clinical utility of force/displacement analysis of muscle testing in applied kinesiology. Int J Neurosci 2001;106(3-4):147-157.
Caso Ml. Evaluation of Chapman's neurolymphatic reflexes via applied kinesiology: a case report of low back pain and congenital intestinal abnormality. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004; 27(1):66.
Dunk NM, Chung YY, Comptom DS, et al. The reliability of quantifying upright standing postures as a baseline diagnostic clinical tool. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2004;27(2):91-96.
Gin RH, Green BN. George Goodheart, Jr., D.C., and a history of applied kinesiology. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1997;20(5):331-337.
Gregory WM, Mills SP, Hamed HH, et al. Applied kinesiology for treatment of women with mastalgia. Breast 2001; 10(1):15-19.
Haas M, Peterson D, Hoyer D, Ross G. Muscle testing response to provocative vertebral challenge and spinal manipulation: a randomized controlled trial of construct validity. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1994; 17(3):141-148.
Lawson A, Calderon L. Interexaminer agreement for applied kinesiology manual muscle testing. Percept Mot Skills 1997 Apr;84(2):539-46.
Ludtke R, Kunz B, Seeber N, et al. Test-retest reliability and validity of the Kinesiology muscle test. Complement Ther Med 2001; 9(3):141-145.
Ludtke R, Seeber N, Kunz B, et al. Health kinesiology is neither reliable nor valid. Focus Alt Compl Ther 2000;5:95.
Moncayo R, Moncayo H, Ulmer H, et al. New diagnostic and therapeutic approach to thyroid-associated orbitopathy based on applied kinesiology and homeopathic therapy. J Altern Complement Med 2004;10(4):643-650.
Staehle HJ, Koch MJ, Pioch T. Double-blind study on materials testing with applied kinesiology. J Dent Res 2005;84(11):1066-1069.
Sudsawad P, Trombly CA, Henderson A, et al. Testing the effect of kinesthetic training on handwriting performances in first-grade students. Am J Occup Ther 2002; 56(1):26-33.
Tashiro MT, Orlandi R, Martins RC, et al. New therapeutic trends in nursing-natural therapies-assistance programs. Rev Bras Enfrm 2001;54(4);658-667.
Teuber SS, Porch-Curren C. Unproved diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to food allergy and intolerance. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2003;3(3):217-221.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.