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Isaiah Ward
Isaiah Ward

Applied Kinesiology

Applied kinesiology (AK) is a pseudoscience-based technique[1] in alternative medicine claimed to be able to diagnose illness or choose treatment by testing muscles for strength and weakness.[2]

Applied Kinesiology

According to their guidelines on allergy diagnostic testing, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology stated there is "no evidence of diagnostic validity" of applied kinesiology.[3] "Another study indicated that the use of applied kinesiology to evaluate nutrient status is no more useful than random guessing,"[4] and the American Cancer Society has said that "scientific evidence does not support the claim that applied kinesiology can diagnose or treat cancer or other illness".[5]

George J. Goodheart, a chiropractor, originated applied kinesiology in 1964[6] and began teaching it to other chiropractors.[7] An organization of Goodheart Study Group Leaders began meeting in 1973, selected the name "The International College of Applied Kinesiology" (ICAK) in 1974, adopted bylaws in 1975, elected officers in 1975, and "certified" its charter members (called "diplomates") in 1976.[8] ICAK now considers 1976 to be the date it was founded and 1973 to be the date that its first chairman took office.[9]

Applied kinesiology is presented as a system that evaluates structural, chemical, and mental aspects of health by using a method referred to as muscle response testing or manual muscle testing (MMT) alongside conventional diagnostic methods. The essential premise of applied kinesiology, which is not shared by mainstream medical theory, is that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a weakness in a specific corresponding muscle in what is termed the "viscerosomatic relationship."[5][12] Treatment modalities relied upon by AK practitioners include joint manipulation and mobilization, myofascial, cranial and meridian therapies, clinical nutrition, and dietary counseling.[13]

Therapy localization is another diagnostic technique using manual muscle testing which is unique to applied kinesiology. The patient places a hand which is not being tested on the skin over an area suspected to be in need of therapeutic attention. This fingertip contact may lead to a change in muscle response from strong to weak or vice versa when therapeutic intervention is indicated. If the area touched is not associated with a need for such intervention, the muscle response is unaffected.[15]

In 2015 the Australian Government's Department of Health published the results of a review of alternative therapies that sought to determine if any were suitable for being covered by health insurance; applied kinesiology was one of 17 therapies evaluated for which no clear evidence of effectiveness was found.[19] According to the American Cancer Society, "available scientific evidence does not support the claim that applied kinesiology can diagnose or treat cancer or other illness".[5]

A review of several scientific studies of AK-specific procedures and diagnostic tests concluded: "When AK is disentangled from standard orthopedic muscle testing, the few studies evaluating unique AK procedures either refute or cannot support the validity of AK procedures as diagnostic tests. The evidence to date does not support the use of manual muscle testing for the diagnosis of organic disease or pre/subclinical conditions."[20] Another concluded that "There is little or no scientific rationale for these methods. Results are not reproducible when subject to rigorous testing and do not correlate with clinical evidence of allergy."[21] A double-blind study was conducted by the ALTA Foundation for Sports Medicine Research in Santa Monica, California, and published in the June 1988 Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study used three experienced AK practitioners and concluded that, "The results of this study indicated that the use of applied kinesiology to evaluate nutrient status is no more useful than random guessing."[4]

In the US, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology[28] and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases[29] have both advised that applied kinesiology should not be used in the diagnosis of allergies. The European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology,[30] the National Institute for Clinical Excellence[31][32] of the UK, the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy[33] and the Allergy Society of South Africa[34] has also advised similarly. The World Allergy Organization does not have a formal position on applied kinesiology, but in educational materials from its Global Resources In Allergy program it lists applied kinesiology as an unproven test and describes it as useless.[35] In 1998, a small pilot study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience showed a correlation between applied kinesiology muscle testings and serum immunoglobulin levels for food allergies. 19 of 21 (90.5%) suspected food allergies diagnosed by applied kinesiology were confirmed by serum immunoglobulin tests.[36] A follow up review published in 2005 in the Current Opinion of Allergy and Clinical Immunology concluded applied kinesiology had no proven basis for diagnosis.[37]

According to the American Chiropractic Association, in 2003 applied kinesiology was the 10th most frequently used chiropractic technique in the United States, with 37.6% of chiropractors employing this method and 12.9% of patients being treated with it.[10] They describe AK as follows:

Kinesiology is the term used to describe the study of human movement. In the Online Master of Science in Applied Kinesiology program, students will be exposed to a broad curriculum covering content across the kinesiology subdisciplines, including exercise physiology, exercise psychology, and athletic coaching, as well as research methodology. Completion of the program can help graduates become more competitive for leadership positions such as exercise physiologists, cardiac rehabilitation coordinators, collegiate or professional strength and sport coaches, community health program educators and administrators, as well as corporate and entrepreneurial positions related to health, fitness, and sport performance.

The six core courses draw from content across the kinesiology sub-disciplines including exercise physiology, exercise psychology, and athletic coaching, as well as research methodology. Students can tailor the program to their specific career interests with selection of the appropriate electives. Lastly, students may choose to complete either a thesis or a practicum to apply their coursework in a culminating educational experience.

Often, we see NYC-based patients who have searched far and wide for the cause of their ailments. Chronic disease, such as Lyme. Fatigue and generalized pain. Using the various diagnostic methods that are part of applied kinesiology, we can find and treat some of the common autonomic nervous system blockers.

Appointments now available for functional medicine consultations here in New York City, including immunology and applied kinesiology. Contact us today to begin your journey toward a harmonized central nervous system.

I think that many people believe in the use of applied kinesiology because there are still many chiropractors and practitioners that support and promote it. They are considered people of authority in this subject area making people trust their opinions and recommendations. I think these people are misinformed by their doctors of the studies supporting applied kinesiology. I think the chiropractors and practitioners that support and believe this are misinterpreting evidence and taking anecdotal evidence as fact. I think conformation bias may play a role in this belief as well. If a practitioner happens to make the right diagnosis, they will surely attribute it to the use of applied kinesiology even though it has been said that the use of applied kinesiology to diagnose is no better than random guessing.

Applied kinesiology is just one of the many different types of alternative medicine with lacking studies to prove its effectiveness. Most people that believe in it are convinced because of the authority figures that promote its use or from personal experience with other forms of alternative medicine. The fact that so many medical organizations have made statements rejecting its use should be enough for people to realize that its effectiveness is just an extraordinary belief, at least you would think so. Obviously, this is not the case since so many people are still promoting and using this practice.

Applied kinesiology (AK) is the study of muscles and the relationship of muscle strength to health. It incorporates a system of manual muscle testing and therapy. AK is based on the theory that an organ dysfunction is accompanied by a specific muscle weakness. Diseases are diagnosed through muscle-testing procedures and then treated. AK is not the same as kinesiology, or biomechanics, which is the scientific study of movement.

AK is based on principles of functional neurology, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and biochemistry as well as principles from Chinese medicine, acupuncture , and massage. It was developed from traditional kinesiology in 1964 by George G. Goodheart, a chiropractor from Detroit, Michigan. He observed that each large muscle relates to a body organ. A weakness in a muscle may mean that there is a problem in the associated organ. Goodheart found that by treating the muscle and making it strong again, he was able to improve the function of the organ as well. For example, if a particular nutritional supplement was given to a patient, and the muscle tested strong, it was the correct supplement for the patient. If the muscle remained weak, it was not. Other methods of treatment can be evaluated in a similar manner. Goodheart also found that painful nodules (small bumps) may be associated with a weak muscle. By deeply massaging the muscle, he was able to improve its strength. Goodheart's findings in 1964 led to the origin and insertion treatment, the first method developed in AK. Other diagnostic and therapeutic procedures were developed for various reflexes described by other chiropractors and doctors. Goodheart incorporated acupuncture meridian therapy into AK after reading the writings of Felix Mann, M.D. 041b061a72


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