Applied Kinesiology (AK)
You, like myself when I heard about this, may be asking yourself,
“What in the world even is that?”
AK was invented/ founded in 1964 by a chiropractor by the name of George J. Goodheart. After he had some difficulties with patients that didn’t respond or find relief from his chiropractic treatments, he then ventured to find new ways to help his patients.
These days there is a governing body by the name of International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK) and according to them AK is “a system that evaluates structural, chemical and mental aspects of health using manual muscle testing combined with other standard methods of diagnosis.” Meaning AK Practitioners, which generally includes chiropractors, osteopathic/conventional physicians, and dentists, are under the belief that they can assess and test for:
- Neurological and muscular dysfunctions
- Micronutrient deficiencies
- Allergies and intolerances
- And even Disease
They claim to do this through the use of: range of motion tests, “Strength”, “Weakness” and reflex tests of your muscles.
These AK Practitioners do things like push down on your outstretched arm in different positions or perform rotational tests, and then give a diagnostic based off of the muscles they deem to be either “weak/unlocked” or “tight/locked”. After this diagnosis has been made they may have you hold a crystal in your hand, or eat a certain food in attempts to “balance” any “imbalances” they may find. To the untrained or uneducated eye this may seem like magic at first, because people tend to get an immediate reaction to the practitioners methods.
However, an easy one to write about and have you test on yourself would be the rotational test. If you rotate your spine in a given direction (without prior warm up) pause for a few seconds and then try again you will notice that you end up getting another inch or two of flexibility instantly. This would not need the assistance of food or magic crystals, it would be caused simply by warming up your spinous processes. Go ahead and give it a go!
Start by standing with your feet at hip or shoulder width apart. Bring one arm up to shoulder height with your palm facing forward, now rotate back as far as you can and pause for 2-5 seconds, don’t try to push any further just hang out there. After the 2-5 seconds has passed try pushing it just a bit further. Now the odds are that you will have been able to push it a noticeable amount further than your original attempt.
The difference between what I had you do and what an AK practitioner would do is that in those few seconds of rest a practitioner would likely give you something to hold in your opposing hand and then begin to explain why this object was the reasoning behind your new found flexibility. As if it wasn’t just a neuromuscular response to your “warm up” round of this physical activity.
Now let me continue with the notion that I, as a firm believer and enthusiast of alternative medicine, went into this with high hopes and a desire to prove this method as a legitimate form of diagnostics. At face value it could be considered harmless, and an interesting way to divert your attention for a while, however the more I dug into the research the more I noticed that it could also potentially be a very expensive way to keep you from finding far more effective, medicinal, and scientific methods to solve your problems.
Common treatments given by AK practitioners can be beneficial, including deep massage, joint manipulation and realignment, craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, nutritional and dietary manipulation. However, 22 clinical studies of AK found insufficient evidence to show: diagnostic accuracy within kinesiology; that kinesiology had a specific therapeutic benefit for any condition; and that the validity of muscle testing had been established. The studies involved chiropractors, trained testers and AK dentists, who were reviewed for quality of methodology and quality of reporting. Also included were laboratory tests for food allergies, biochemical tests for nutrient status, chiropractic clinical observations and a mechanical muscle test. None of the studies found a positive effect of applied kinesiology.
Even though AK has kinesiology in the title, which alone means the study of the mechanics and anatomy of human movement, AK has no confirmed basis in actual science. It’s use can in fact be costly to people looking to improve their health, and is a poor alternative to medically and scientifically backed professionals such as physicians and nutritionists. That’s not to discredit alternative treatments such as massage and acupuncture, but always consult your physician on which treatment is best for you.
Authors: Carla and Armando Castro