WHAT is it? WHY use it? HOW does it work?
Applied Kinesiology (AK) is a chiropractic diagnostic and treatment technique using manual muscle testing (MMT) as a primary feedback mechanism to examine how a person's body is functioning (or not). When properly administered, the outcome of an AK exam will determine the best form of therapy for the patient. Since AK draws together the core elements of many forms of healthcare, it provides an interdisciplinary approach to treating patients quickly and efficiently.
For chiropractors, the importance of expertly assessing the functional state of the motor system is emphasized by studies suggesting faulty motor control is the most likely source of at least half of low back and localized pain syndromes. The evidence now shows with greater clarity than ever that inflammation or injury produces specifically identified inhibited muscles. Controlled clinical studies have shown that dysfunction and pain specifically in the ankle, knee, lumbar spine, temporomandibular joint and cervical spine will produce inhibited muscles. These data indicate that the body's reaction to injury and pain is not increased muscular tension and stiffness. Instead, muscle inhibition is often more significant.
Poor motor control goes hand in hand with decreased joint stability and may be the fundamental force creating and perpetuating spinal and extremity dysfunction. Muscles predictably respond to pain, inflammation and/or injury with WEAKNESS. However, this disorder of the muscle system is routinely ignored in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal patients because physicians do not have a tool in their offices to diagnose it.
WHAT COMPRISES AN EXAMINATION USING APPLIED KINESIOLOGY?
The process begins with a detailed questioning of the patient to uncover clues as to what may be going on. Generally, problems can be related to structural imbalances, chemical imbalances, mental stress, or any combination of the above. After this general examination, procedures are used to assess the health of the patient. For example, changes in blood pressure from lying to sitting to standing can indicate imbalances in the body that would have an impact on musculoskeletal control and joint stability. This is followed with specific examination procedures directed toward the patient complaint. For example, in a musculoskeletal problem, skin sensitivity, knee reflex, and balance can help to uncover problems. After theses tests are performed, and evaluation of the strength of the muscles is performed. There are many causes of muscular weakness and different procedures may be used to uncover the cause. At the end of all these different but important parts, the information is correlated to establish a treatment program.
WHAT IS THE EDUCATION OF SOMEONE DOING APPLIED KINESIOLOGY?
Applied Kinesiology is performed by health care professionals. First, they have their basic education in what ever field they practice. For example, they might be a medical doctor, osteopath, chiropractor, or a dentist. Then they study Applied Kinesiology in a post-graduate setting. The basic course takes over 100 hours of classroom study and many hours of practice and study at home. Advanced courses and specialties add up to over 300 hours of classroom study with yearly continuing education to maintain the newest information. Because AK uses manual muscles testing, any advances in neurology, biochemistry, or biomechanics are relevant and need to be reviewed.
ARE APPLIED KINESIOLOGY AND MUSCLE TESTING THE SAME THING?
NO. Applied Kinesiology is a clinical assessment and treatment requiring extensive training in anatomy, biomechanics, neurology, and biochemistry. The Manual Muscle Test has to be used by a TRAINED professional with an ability to correlate the different portions of presenting symptoms, patient history, and clinical exams to create a diagnosis and treatment. Muscle testing is only one portion of the technique (albeit very important) and is not a stand alone factor for diagnosis. Muscle testing has been misused as a tool and oversimplified by many that are not properly trained.
HOW DOES THE MANUAL MUSCLE TEST WORK?
Well that depends on your understanding of neurology, but let's see if it can be made into layman's terms. A manual muscle test in AK is conducted by having the patient resist using the target muscle or muscle group while the practitioner applies an opposing force. A smooth response is sometimes referred to as a "strong muscle" and a response that was not appropriate is sometimes called a "weak response". This is not a raw test of muscle strength, but rather a subjective evaluation of tension in the muscle and the ability of the nervous system to respond to a challenge on joint/ligaments/muscles. The difference in muscle response can be indicative of various stresses and imbalances in the body. A weak muscle test is equated to dysfunction on some level within the body, producing subotpimal function. The other tests and procedures of an AK examination are designed to narrow down and diagnose where the dysfunction stems from. The suboptimal function may create immediate pain ("ouch! That movement hurts!") or abnormality in the nervous system (think of migraine headache that comes and goes periodically). By using whichever treatment indicated by the AK examination, the root cause of dysfunction is corrected and the outcome is a "strong" muscle test demonstrating a positive change in the body and its function.
WHY IS APPLIED KINESIOLOGY SO GOOD FOR SPORTS AND ATHLETES?
Doctors using Applied Kinesiology have the distinct advantage over other practitioners as they have specific diagnostic tools to determine the best therapy for the injured athlete. (That also includes the ability to refer out a patient in need of MRI, surgical, or more advanced neurological procedures when appropriate.) These tools range from specific muscle treatments designed to normalize muscle activity to treatments designed to aid other damaged tissues like skin, ligaments, tendons, and joints. Assessing the gait or other sport-specific movements is available, and by using pre- and post-treatment muscle testing, the doctor can see the benefit of the therapeutic intervention. The athletes heal quicker, and risk factors that may have lead to the injury or performance problem can be tracked down to help the patient avoid a recurrence of the problem. This is helpful for younger athletes who are growing and don't have the full muscle coordination of an adult athlete, as well as for weekend warriors, or adult athletes who are increasing their training and find chronic problems as they try to increase work load.
WHAT OTHER CONDITIONS DOES APPLIED KINESIOLOGY TREAT?
Since Applied Kinesiology tests different functions of the nervous system, it is also a viable technique to treat conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, insomnia, migraines, food allergy/sensitivity, anxiety and depression, gut disturbances (Crohn's, IBS, colic), adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances, asthma, high cholesterol, joint and cartilage arthritis, and autoimmune problems. The exam begins the same, but will consist of differing procedures that are targeted to analyze related systems to the issue.