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Kinesiology and its Applications

by Pam Bracken(more info)

listed in kinesiology, originally published in issue 106 - December 2004


The word 'Kinesiology' comes from the Greek word kinesis, which means 'movement'. In the medical sciences this is the name given to the study of muscles and the movement of the body (biomechanics or traditional kinesiology). Kinesiology research and development can be traced back thousands of years to Aristotle (384-322 BC); Leonardo da Vinci (1429-1519) famous for his studies of human structure and function; Luigi Galvani who in 1780 discovered that muscular contraction was caused by electrical impulses produced by nerves.

In 1964 Dr George Goodheart, an American chiropractor from Detroit, Michigan, used muscle testing, devised by Kendall, Kendall and Wadsworth in the 1930s, to evaluate his chiropractic treatments. Later, together with a team of likeminded doctors, known as the 'dirty dozen', a working party was formed and in 1974 they founded The International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK). Membership of the college is restricted to people who have completed at least three years of a basic medically oriented degree and are qualified to diagnose and write prescriptions.

Goodheart was inspired by his earlier successes to conduct further research and incorporate acupuncture into AK linking organs and glands of the body with meridians and the muscles of the body. He later incorporated nutrition, lymph drainage and treatment modes such as Chapman's reflexes and Bennett's reflexes etc.

Five Element Chart
Five Element Chart

Dr John Thie, one of the founder members and first president of ICAK, used to teach AK techniques to some of his patients to use at home. He found that their recovery was faster and greater than those who didn't use them. Inspired by these results Thie wanted "to spread health to the general public through natural means" (TFH 1973) and help them save money on soaring costs of healthcare. In 1973, assisted by Mary Marks, Gordon Stokes and Richard Duree, he wrote Touch for Health, a book of AK techniques for lay people.

According to Frost (2002), thanks to TFH, more than two million professional therapists and lay people worldwide have now been introduced to Kinesiology muscle testing techniques. In 1976 Brian Butler went to the USA, became a TFH instructor and introduced Kinesiology to the UK. He went on to develop Balanced Health and founded his own school.

Since then over a hundred and twenty different specializations of Kinesiology have developed worldwide, not all of which met with approval. David Walther, ICAK Diplomate (Walther 2000) stated: "Unfortunately, 'kinesiology' has… grown in use by lay persons who are failing to correlate the results of manual muscle testing with standard methods of diagnosis. Much harm can come from the application of 'kinesiology' in this manner."

Dr John Thie (1988) was cited in the The Advanced Communication Training (TACT) workshop manual by Brian Butler: "Muscle testing is being used to help people use their intuition, which is knowing something without the use of reasoning. This type of activity is dangerous, if it does not accompany reasoning and knowledge about the seriousness of life".


Proper training is vitally important. Accurate muscle testing is a skill that takes time and dedication to develop and cannot be learned from a book, video or correspondence course. In April 2003 Kinesiology National Occupational Standards were published to provide a benchmark for all Kinesiology training in the UK. These standards have been designed to offer protection to clients so that they can be confident that the practitioner treating them has been adequately trained. Practitioners can be confident in the training they receive as long as it is mapped to the standards which include being taught by a professionally qualified and experienced teacher who is also a professionally qualified and experienced Kinesiologist.

Courses recognized and accredited by an external body also testify to the quality of that course. To achieve accreditation is no mean task. It means that a school, its tutors, training materials, equipment and resources including its financial viability, where the classes are held, its syllabus and, most importantly, methods of assessment, have all been inspected by an independent body and deemed to have met the requirements of the National Occupational Standards.

Muscle testing combined with Kinesiology techniques enables the practitioner to find out which systems are out of balance i.e. mental, chemical, structural or energetic – which could be one, several or them all. For someone to be truly healthy all four systems need to be functioning well and in harmony with each other. In my opinion Kinesiology is the only treatment which addresses all four areas and as such is truly holistic.

Kinesiology obtains positive results when other modalities including orthodox medicine have failed. The longer someone has had a problem the more likely it is that all the systems will need to be treated. More importantly is to find the underlying cause and to identify the factors which may be contributing to such imbalances.

Once you have all this information, then corrections can be applied to all four areas. Restoring this balance can have profound effects on people's lives.

Kinesiology Treatment

Goodheart (Frost 2002) states that Applied Kinesiology is based on the fact that the body never lies; the prime diagnostic device is still the original muscle testing of Kendall et al. to determine muscle function. So all Kinesiology treatments will involve at least one muscle test. Most muscle tests are conducted while the client is lying down, usually clothed, on a treatment couch. Some tests involve movements for which they may be asked to stand e.g. eye tests.

The Kinesiologist will move the client's limb into a position to contract a specific muscle. They will be asked to resist light pressure on the limb in a particular direction for a few seconds. This is to assess the functional integrity of the nervous system involved with that muscle. If the client can keep the limb in the same position it is considered to test 'strong'; if they can't, then it is considered 'weak'. Some muscles lock easily and others may give way.

Correction Techniques

Methods of strengthening a weak muscle may include firm massage to the tendons at its origin and insertion. If this method strengthens the weak muscle it may also benefit the muscles' related organ and health problems. For example, the pectoralis major clavicular muscle (PMC) is related to the stomach meridian and the stomach.

If the PMC tests weak, it may indicate digestive problems or emotional upsets.

Bilateral weakness may indicate a spinal fixation at T5 or T6.

In the 1930s American osteopath Frank Chapman discovered reflex points, now known as neurolymphatic reflex points (NLs), found on the front of the body in the intercostal spaces between the ribs and where they join the sternum and on the back where they meet the vertebra. Other NLs have since been discovered. When massaged they stimulate the elimination of excess lymph and may strengthen weak muscles. This is a very common correction used in treatments as most people have a sluggish lymphatic system due to lack of exercise.

Chiropractor and clinician Terence Bennett researched and mapped out vascular reflexes now known as neurovascular reflex points (NVs). These points are located mostly on the head and many are bilateral. They are treated by gently pressing them and tugging in different directions until a pulse can be felt, under the fingers. Once this pulse is felt, the points are pressed for about 20 seconds or until the pulsation stops. These points stimulate the vascular circulation to a specific organ and its related muscle. For example, NVs for the PMC are located bilaterally on the forehead halfway between the eyebrows and the hairline. Holding these points stimulates the circulation of the blood to the stomach and strengthens a weak PMC and can be extremely effective when used to treat emotional distress.

Kinesiologists are trained to test approximately 50 different muscles. Any one of these muscles which tests 'strong in the clear' (without stimulus) can be used as an indicator muscle to test for other things. Known as therapy localization, this is done by testing the indicator muscle at the same time as the client touches the site of an injury, for example. If the indicator muscle now tests weak it indicates a lesion, and further muscle tests will be undertaken to ascertain what corrections are needed.

Other correction techniques include holding or massaging acupuncture points, repeated muscle activation (RMA), reactivity, stretch weakness, testing for nutritional support or substances which weaken or strengthen the body. ICAK-approved techniques are only those that they have clinically researched and work for anyone who uses them.

Thanks to muscle testing and AK, a treatment is totally client led and will differ for each individual. People may have the same symptoms but the underlying cause may be different and therefore the treatment needed will be different. For example, ten clients could complain of headaches but there could be ten different reasons why.

Usually at the end of a treatment a client will be given advice of some kind which may include nutritional requirements, dietary changes, exercise or simple techniques to reduce stress.

The Benefits

The greatest application of Kinesiology is in dealing with everyday complaints for which no permanent cure has been found. The assessment techniques are good at identifying the causes of problems and can be very useful in pinpointing the sources of general unwellness and fatigue that have no obvious medical causes. As Goodheart said, "The body never lies". Kinesiology lets the body reveal precisely where the problem is and exactly what it needs in order to be healed, enabling problems to be corrected at source often permanently. Kinesiology is also ideal for preventative healthcare.

In more serious conditions, Kinesiology enables people to function as well as possible under the circumstances and to be supported towards better health. Sometimes different types of treatment may be needed at different times. For example, initially there may be structural problems to be dealt with, and once these have been treated emotional problems may surface. Emotional problems and stress can be treated very quickly without any need for in-depth psychoanalysis.

Specifically Kinesiology can help people with many common conditions including: allergies, chronic fatigue, asthma, eczema, candida, IBS, migraine headaches, insomnia, anxiety, phobias, low mood, weight problems, fluid retention, digestion problems, muscular and skeletal pain, arthritic pain, hyperactivity, breast congestion and much more. Because Kinesiology does not focus on specific symptoms, the list of health problems which it can help or alleviate is endless. By improving posture and coordination people have more stamina and less pain.

How Long Does it Last?

The number of treatments required varies depending on the condition being treated. Some problems are short term and can be sorted fairly quickly, some are chronic and may take much longer.

So, for example, if someone has had a health problem for years it may take longer to relieve than something that has developed fairly recently. Treatment lasts until whatever the stress on the body was that caused the imbalance recurs. Kinesiology assessment will try to discover what the stressors are and re-educate the body to stay in balance.

Is it Safe?

When practised by people who are properly trained, Kinesiology cannot harm anyone. The techniques used for correction are simple and gentle. They work by enhancing the clients' energy, following the dictates of the clients' own body as to what is energy enhancing and what isn't. It is suitable for adults and children (including babies). People who are very sick or disabled in some way can be treated by using a surrogate.

Are There Any After-effects?

Treatments are powerful and deep-reaching and can bring about major energy changes which may make one feel tired or sleepy or other slight symptoms such as a headache or cold. Withdrawal from foods or substances causing intolerance or toxicity may cause unpleasant symptoms as the body detoxes. Fortunately they don't last too long, and can be seen as a good sign that healing is taking place. Healing effects can continue for days, weeks and even months after treatment.

Kinesiology Can Enhance Other Therapies

Kinesiology is the link, the lynch pin, which brings together all the different modalities which are currently taught in a fragmented way and often in competition with each other.

Combining therapies with Kinesiology can significantly enhance their efficacy and speed of recovery. Structural therapies such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, massage, reflexology can be enhanced by being able to treat, for example, emotional problems and stress which can cause tension in skeletal muscles which in turn can cause subluxations and postural imbalances.

Recurring structural problems may be caused by food intolerances or nutritional deficiencies. There is also the added advantage that using Kinesiology with its gentle muscle tests and corrections will also reduce the 'wear and tear' on the practitioner.

Mental or emotional therapies such as counselling, hypnotherapy, NLP, psychology may be enhanced by being able to test for food or chemical sensitivities which have been linked to hyperactivity and schizophrenia and other mental disturbances (Mackarness 1990) and headaches or migraine. Emotional traumas that could take years to treat in some instances can be resolved in minutes (Callaghan 2001).

Depression may be treated by addressing pain, structural problems or nutritional imbalances.

Healing in therapies such as nutrition, homeopathy or herbalism can be speeded up and enhanced by being able to muscle test to find the most appropriate remedy(ies). Problems with poor absorption or toxicity can be easily identified and treated. When symptoms have subsided, tests can be done later to evaluate whether a remedy is still relevant.

Dentists use Kinesiology in their practice to reduce stress or phobias in clients, and to correct TMJ subluxations which can cause back pain, sciatica and digestive problems. Nutrition can be recommended to eliminate anaesthetics from the body after surgery.

Acupuncturists have found that when they use Kinesiology in their treatments they are able to find the underlying imbalance much faster and a successful outcome is more likely. Bach Flower Remedies and Aromatherapy essential oils can be quickly identified using muscle tests. Chronic chakra imbalances may be rectified by correcting spinal fixations.

Educationalists and parents can do much to help children and adults with learning difficulties using Brain Gym exercises and by recommending testing for nutritional deficiencies and food sensitivities.

Case Studies and Testimonials

Low Back Pain

Dorothy, 64, complained of increasing pain in the lower back and knees, various aches and low energy. The first treatment included a correction to the TMJ and sacrum, nutritional support and intolerance to wheat. Energy levels had improved significantly within a month.


Sue, 47, a health worker suffered from lifelong crippling migraine headaches which began to fade within a month of her first treatment. Kinesiology testing found Sue had sensitivities to orange and wheat, and needed digestive enzymes.

"I have been a migraine sufferer for 35 years. My relief of headaches started a week later. After four months I had no headaches or migraines. I stopped feeling dizzy when bending down and I now have boundless energy. I have also lost two stone in weight. I was overweight as I used to have a very sweet tooth."


Nicky: "…for the past few years I have suffered from arthritis in both knees. Having undergone extensive hospital treatment I was told there was nothing more that could be done until I was 60 years old, so come back in six years time when they would consider knee replacements… after two sessions there has been a dramatic improvement. For the first time in many months the pain has virtually disappeared. A walk in the town was an effort, but is now enjoyable again."

Further Information

Information on training and practitioners can be obtained from: The Northern School of Kinesiology, Grove Farm Cottage, Bradbury, Co Durham TS21 2ET Tel: 01388 720146,


Butler, BH. Your Breasts – What every woman needs to know now. TASK Books. 1995.
Callaghan, RJ. Tapping the Healer Within. Contemporary Books. 2001.
Clark, S. What Really Works: The Insiders Guide to Complementary Health. Harper Collins. 2000.
Frost, Robert. Applied Kinesiology: a training manual and reference book of basic principles and practices. North Atlantic Books. California. 2002.
Gregory, WM, Mills, SP, Hamed, HH, Fentiman, IS. Applied Kinesiology for treatment of women with mastalgia. The Breast. 10: 15-19. 2001.
Hannaford, C Ph.D. Smart Moves: Why Learning is Not All in Your Head. Great Ocean Publishers. 1995.
Kendall, HO and FMP Kendall. Muscles, Testing and Function. Williams and Wilkins Co. Baltimore. 1949.
Mackarness, Dr R. Not All in the Mind: the classic study of Food Allergy and Mental Health. Pan Books. 2nd edition. 1990.
Walther, David. Applied Kinesiology Synopsis. 2nd edition. Systems DC. Colorado. 2000.


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About Pam Bracken

Pam Bracken BA(Hons), PGCE, CIPD, Dip AK, ITEC, MIGPP was trained by: Dr Sheldon Deal ND MD, an American Physician and Head Clinician; Dr Deal was Chairman of ICAK (1978-1983) and is currently President of the ICAK Board of Examiners; Brian Butler, BA the first person to pioneer Applied Kinesiology in Britain and Europe and Kinesiologist Tony Edwards. Pam Bracken works as a Kinesiologist and, together with Clive Hall a Life Coach and Business Coach, runs The Northern School of Kinesiology. Pam designed and delivered the first Diploma in Professional Kinesiology in the UK mapped to the Kinesiology National Occupational Standards, accredited by The International Guild of Complementary Practitioners. She can be contacted on

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