Applied Kinesiology (A.K.) is an interdisciplinary approach to health care, which draws together the core elements of complementary therapies, creating a more unified approach to the diagnosis and treatment of functional illness. A.K. uses functional assessment measures such as posture and gait analysis, manual muscle testing as functional neurologic evaluation, range of motion, static palpation, and motion analysis. These assessments are used in conjunction with standard methods of diagnosis, such as clinical history, physical examination findings, laboratory tests, and instrumentation to develop a clinical impression of the unique physiologic condition of each patient including an impression of the patient’s functional physiologic status. When appropriate, this clinical impression is used as a guide to the application of conservative physiologic therapeutics.
In general, the applied kinesiologist finds a muscle that tests weak and then attempts to determine why that muscle is not functioning properly. The practitioner will then evaluate and apply the therapy that will best eliminate the muscle weakness and help the patient. Therapies utilized can include specific joint manipulation or mobilization, various myofascial therapies, cranial techniques, meridian therapy, clinical nutrition, dietary management and various reflex procedures. In some cases, the examiner may test for environmental or food sensitivities by using a previously strong muscle to find what weakens it.
Often the indication of dysfunction is the failure of a muscle to perform properly during the manual muscle test. This may be due to improper facilitation or neuromuscular inhibition. In theory some of the proposed etiologies for the muscle dysfunction are as follows:
- Myofascial or proprioceptive dysfunctions and micro avulsions
- Peripheral nerve entrapment
- Spinal segmental facilitation and deafferentation
- Neurologic disorganization
- Viscerosomatic relationships (aberrant autonomic reflexes)
- Nutritional inadequacy
- Toxic chemical influences
- Dysfunction in production or circulation of cerebrospinal fluid
- Adverse mechanical tension in the meningeal membranes
- Meridian system imbalance
- Lymphatic and vascular impairment
In 1964, Dr. Goodheart made an observation that a weak muscle could be treated and the strength immediately improved. From this simple observation, he began a life -long search for other treatment methods that could improve muscle strength. Along the way, he discovered factors that could negatively affect the strength and functioning of muscles. In the beginning, he named this area of investigation and discovery applied kinesiology. He chose to use the term kinesiology, as this implies the study of motion, movement and muscle function. He added the term applied because what he was doing was not the discipline of standard kinesiology.
Applied kinesiology is best described as a technique using muscle testing as a diagnostic tool to augment the examination skills that a health care professional has learned. These findings then allow an integrated approach of differing therapies that are appropriate for the patient.