Applied kinesiology is an alternative medicine technique.
What is Applied Kinesiology?
Applied kinesiology (AK), is a technique that is said to be able to diagnose a patient’s illness and help to select treatments by performing muscle testing for weaknesses and strengths. It is used in alternative medicine, and it may be practiced by massage therapists, nutritionists, dentists, physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, veterinarians, physical therapists, and naturopaths. There are also applied kinesiology chiropractic uses. AK is not the same as kinesiology, which is defined as “the scientific study of human movement.” Applied kinesiology was originated in 1964 by George J. Goodheart, who taught it to other chiropractors. This led to the creation of the Goodheart Study Group Leaders (1973), which became the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK). In 1976, the charter members were “certified” and became “diplomates”. Today, the AK technique is “the 10th most frequently used chiropractic technique in the United States”. In fact, over a third of chiropractors use applied kinesiology and about 13% of patients are treated with AK.1 The ICAK notes that AK practitioners evaluate chemical, structural, and mental health by using standard diagnostic methods and manual muscle testing. Once the unbalanced muscle is found, the practitioner finds out why and then determines treatment methods to balance the muscles. In addition to the joint manipulation, myofascial techniques, and nutritional counseling, as well as various other methods, a practitioner may also employ acupuncture and evaluate reflexes and environmental irritants.2 AK uses what is known as “the Triad of Health” or the “Chemical, Mental and Structural factors that balance the major health categories”. Chemical imbalances are believed to be able to cause symptoms in mental health, for example, as all sides of the triad are said to be interactive with each other.3
Various Applied Kinesiology Techniques
Applied kinesiology is described “as a system that evaluates structural, chemical, and mental aspects of health by using a method referred to as manual muscle testing (MMT)”. Traditional diagnostic methods are also used by practitioners. The premise of AK, which is not mainstream medicine, is that the dysfunctional organs have specific, corresponding muscle weaknesses, and those types of pairings are called the “viscerosomatic relationship”. Treatment includes dietary and nutritional counseling, meridian therapies, cranial and myofascial therapies, and “joint manipulation and mobilization”. In the muscle testing, the patient must resist by using the targeted muscles as the practitioner applies force. If the response is smooth, it is a “strong muscle”, and if the response is inappropriate, it is considered a “weak response”. This is not strength testing, but it is an evaluation of the smoothness and tension of the response, which is believed to indicate “a difference in spindle cell response during contraction”. Muscle responses are thought to indicate imbalances and stresses in the body, which would demonstrate “suboptimal functioning”. A common test is the “Delta test”, or the “arm-pull-down test”, where the patient extends an arm and the AK practitioner presses down on the arm. It is important, in these tests, that the patient has proper positioning to isolate the correct muscle group and prevent interference from nearby muscles. Another technique that some practitioners use is “nutrient testing”, where patient’s muscles respond to various chemicals, and “gustatory and olfactory stimulation are said to alter the outcome of a manual muscle test”. It is thought that proper nutrient supplementation can strengthen weak muscles, and harmful substances and allergens can weaken strong muscles. The technique of “therapy localization” is a method of the practitioner placing the patient’s hand “on the skin over an area suspected to be in need of therapeutic attention”. As a result, it is believed that the muscle response can changed from weak to strong (or strong to weak) to indicate where therapy is needed. If intervention is not needed, it is believed that the muscle response will be unaffected.4
The Neuro Emotional Technique
Neuro Emotional Technique, or NET, is considered a “psychotherapeutic/chiropractic system” that combines principles and techniques from chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine, and applied kinesiology. This holistic approach focuses on “imbalances in the structure” of the musculoskeletal system, toxins in the body, nutritional deficiencies, and “unresolved ‘negative emotional blocks’”. The “negative emotional complexes”, or NEC, are believed to be stored within the body. Scott Walker, a chiropractor, developed the neuro emotional technique in the 1980s, and “some reports in the chiropractic literature support the effectiveness of NET”. Although NET is not psychotherapy, patients have anecdotally reported feeling happier, less stressed, and “more at ease after treatment”. NET has been found to be more effective than a “no-intervention control group” for spider phobia, and has also been found to improve flexibility, when measured with the “sit-n-reach test”. In terms of effectiveness with athletes, after seven rowers were tested with the “Max Power Test” a week before an a week after a session of NET, five performed better after the NET. In a case study of two “power-lifting athletes”, there were “reductions in reported subjective anxiety levels and changes in the salivary hormone profile”.5
All of the AK skills are approved and developed by the International College of Applied Kinesiology Board of Standards. The skills derive from chiropractic, medicine, dentistry, osteopathy, acupuncture, psychology, naturopathy, homeopathy, and biochemistry. The International College of Applied Kinesiology has conferences and publications so that the AK professionals share their knowledge. AK is a “postgraduate specialty”. Practitioners can be found through the ICAK website.6 There are many courses in applied kinesiology, that are available in the US and Canada, as well as Europe and Australia. The courses are open to any healthcare professionals who are “licensed to diagnose”. Two of the international schools are the International Kinesiology College (IKC) in Switzerland and the International College of Professional Kinesiology Practice (ICPKP) in New Zealand, which offers “approximately 2300 hours of learning (and) is the most comprehensive, student-centered training available in Kinesiology worldwide”. There are several other programs available, internationally, including those in Canada, Germany, the UK, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Poland.7 The ICAK also offers courses throughout the year, and basic courses in AK are “based on the 100-hour syllabus “The Essentials of Applied Kinesiology in Clinical Practice. The 100-hour Certified Course”…approved at the June 15-16, 1992 ICAK-USA Board Meeting”.8 AK practitioners work in the bodywork and healthcare industries. While they use conventional diagnostic methodologies, they also utilize manual testing, posture analysis, and motion analysis to check muscle weakness. Treatments could include not only physical therapies and medical treatments, but also herbal supplementation. In kinesiology school, the courses usually cover biomechanics, how to do muscle testing, nutrition, sports injuries diagnosis, and some holistic treatments for emotional and physical issues. Most degrees have 100 hours of training and study, but to be a “Diplomate”, there are 300 more hours of “instruction plus examinations”. Tuition is generally “between $1100 and $2200 for first-time certification applicants”, and fees vary. After training, “medical, massage therapy, and health care professionals must meet appropriate state licensing requirements”. AK practitioners may work in the massage therapy, chiropractic, and physical therapy fields, for example, and both the employment and salary prospects for those three fields are promising, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook.9
3, 6 http://www.icak.com/index.php/what-is-ak2