What is AK?
Applied Kinesiology (AK) is a system that evaluates structural, chemical, and mental aspects of health using manual muscle testing combined with other standard methods of diagnosis. AK, a non-invasive system of evaluating body function that is unique in the healing arts, has become a dynamic movement in health care in its relatively short existence.
The combined terms “applied” and “kinesiology” describe the basis of this system, which is the use of manual muscle testing to evaluate body function through the dynamics of the musculoskeletal system. Treatments may involve specific joint manipulation or mobilization, various myofascial therapies, cranial techniques, meridian and acupuncture skills, clinical nutrition, dietary management, counseling skills, evaluating environmental irritants, and various reflex procedures.
Triad Of Health
The triad of health lists the three basic causes of health problems. They are structural, chemical, and mental, with structure as the base of the triad. Literally, all health problems, whether functional or pathological, are involved with one part or all parts of the triad. This is not new to chiropractic, as its founder, D.D. Palmer states in his text, “The Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic,” “The determining causes of disease are traumatism, poison, and autosuggestion.” AK enables the doctor to evaluate the triad’s functional balance and direct therapy toward the imbalanced side or sides.
The physician who is aware of the triad of health, and evaluates every patient for all three sides, increases his ability to find the basic underlying cause of a patient´s health problem. AK skills are developed and approved by the International College of Applied Kinesiology Board of Standards.
These skills are refined from many disciplines including Chiropractic, Osteopathy, Medicine, Dentistry, Acupuncture, Biochemistry, Psychology, Homeopathy, and Naturopathy etc. Members of these professions share knowledge through the publications and conferences of the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK) and its chapters.
Applied kinesiology (AK) which is also known as muscle strength testing, is a method of diagnosis and treatment based on the belief that various muscles are linked to particular organs and glands, and that specific muscle weakness can signal distant internal problems such as nerve damage, reduced blood supply, chemical
Is applied kinesiology legitimate?
To quote a 2013 study: “The research published by the Applied Kinesiology field itself is not to be relied upon, and in the experimental studies that do meet accepted standards of science, Applied Kinesiology has not demonstrated that it is a useful or reliable diagnostic tool upon which health decisions can be based.
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. “Another study indicated that the use of applied kinesiology to evaluate nutrient status is no more useful than random guessing,” 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”.
History and current use
George J. Goodheart, a chiropractor, originated applied kinesiology in 1964 and began teaching it to other chiropractors. 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. ICAK now considers 1976 to be the date it was founded and 1973 to be the date that its first chairman took office.
While this practice is primarily used by chiropractors, AK is also used by a number of other practitioners of complementary therapy. In 2003, it 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. Some basic AK-based techniques have also been used/misused by nutritional supplement distributors, including multilevel distributors.
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.” Treatment modalities relied upon by AK practitioners include joint manipulation and mobilization, myofascial, cranial, and meridian therapies, clinical nutrition, and dietary counseling.
A manual muscle test in AK is conducted by having the patient resist using the target muscle or muscle group while the practitioner applies a 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 strength, but rather a subjective evaluation of tension in the muscle and smoothness of response, taken to be indicative of a difference in spindle cell response during contraction. These differences in muscle response are claimed to be indicative of various stresses and imbalances in the body. A weak muscle test is equated to dysfunction and chemical or structural imbalance or mental stress, indicative of suboptimal functioning. It may be suboptimal functioning of the tested target muscle, or a normally optimally functioning muscle can be used as an indicator muscle for another physiological testing. A commonly known and very basic test is the arm-pull-down test, or “Delta test,” where the patient resists as the practitioner exerts a downward force on an extended arm. Proper positioning is paramount to ensure that the muscle in question is isolated or positioned as the prime mover, minimizing interference from adjacent muscle groups.
Nutrient testing is used to examine the response of various patient’s muscles to assorted chemicals. Gustatory and olfactory stimulation are said to alter the outcome of a manual muscle test, with previously weak muscles being strengthened by application of the correct nutritional supplement, and previously strong muscles being weakened by exposure to harmful or imbalancing substances or allergens. Though its use is deprecated by the ICAK, stimulation to test muscle response to a certain chemical is also done by contact or proximity (for instance, testing while the patient holds a bottle of pills).
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.
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. 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”.
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.” 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.” 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.”
Despite more than four decades of review, RCT (randomized, controlled trials) and other evaluative methods, even invested researchers delivered the following opinion:
“One shortcoming is the lack of RCTs to substantiate (or refute) the clinical utility (efficacy, effectiveness) of chiropractic interventions based on MMT findings. Also, because the etiology of a muscle weakness may be multifactorial, any RCT that employs only one mode of therapy to only one area of the body may produce outcomes that are poor due to these limitations.”
Nearly all AK tests are subjective, relying solely on practitioner assessment of muscle response. Specifically, some studies have shown test-retest reliability, inter-tester reliability, and accuracy to have no better than chance correlations. Some skeptics have argued that there is no scientific understanding of the proposed underlying theory of a viscerosomatic relationship, and the efficacy of the modality is unestablished in some cases and doubtful in others. Skeptics have also dismissed AK as “quackery,” “magical thinking,” and a misinterpretation of the ideomotor effect. It has also been criticized on theoretical and empirical grounds, and characterized as pseudoscience. With only anecdotal accounts claiming to provide positive evidence for the efficacy of the practice, a review of peer-reviewed studies concluded that the “evidence to date does not support the use of [AK] for the diagnosis of organic disease or pre/subclinical conditions.”
In the US, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have both advised that applied kinesiology should not be used in the diagnosis of allergies. The European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence of the UK, the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy and the Allergy Society of South Africa 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. 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. A follow-up review published in 2005 in the Current Opinion of Allergy and Clinical Immunology concluded that applied kinesiology had no proven basis for diagnosis.
American Chiropractic Association
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. They describe AK as follows:
This is an approach to chiropractic treatment in which several specific procedures may be combined. Diversified/manipulative adjusting techniques may be used with nutritional interventions, together with light massage of various points referred to as neurolymphatic and neurovascular points. Clinical decision-making is often based on testing and evaluating muscle strength.
Danish Chiropractic Association
According to a March 26, 1998, letter from the DKF (Dansk Kiropraktor Forening – Danish Chiropractic Association), following public complaints from patients receiving homeopathic care and/or AK instead of standard (DKF defined) chiropractic care, the DKF has determined that applied kinesiology is not a form of chiropractic care and must not be presented to the public as such. AK and homeopathy can continue to be practiced by chiropractors as long as it is noted to be alternative and adjunctive to chiropractic care and is not performed in a chiropractic clinic. Chiropractors may not infer or imply that the Danish chiropractic profession endorses AK to be legitimate or effective, nor may the word/title chiropractic/chiropractor be used or associated with the practice of AK.
What is the difference between kinesiology and applied kinesiology?
Is Applied Kinesiology the same as Kinesiology? No. Kinesiology is the scientific study of human movement. Applied Kinesiology (A.K.) is a system of diagnosis and treatment used by health care professionals.
Is kinesiology scientifically proven?
Evidence of effectiveness of kinesiology
Many nervous system diseases can affect muscle strength. Kinesiology is based on an energy model of health (not a medical one). There is little evidence of the underlying philosophy and claims of benefit. Sep 29, 2015
Are Kinesiologists quacks?
A chiropractor and a professional applied kinesiologist demonstrating a manual muscle test MMT of Psoas major and Iliacus muscles. Applied kinesiology (AK) is a pseudoscience-based technique in alternative medicine claimed to be able to diagnose illness or choose treatment by testing muscles for strength and weakness.
What has applied kinesiology?
Kinesiology, also known as biomechanics, is the study of body movement. Applied kinesiology (AK) which is also known as muscle strength testing, is a method of diagnosis and treatment based on the belief that various muscles are linked to particular organs and glands, and that specific muscle weakness can signal distant internal problems such as nerve damage, reduced blood supply, chemical imbalances or other organ or gland problems. Practitioners contend that by correcting this muscle weakness, you can help heal a problem in the associated internal organ.
What is applied kinesiology used for?
Practitioners claim that applied kinesiology can be used to diagnose and treat nervous system problems, nutritional deficiencies or excesses, imbalances in the body’s “energy pathways” (known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as meridians), and many other health concerns.
The theory of AK was developed by George Goodheart, Jr., a Michigan chiropractor who began to write and lecture about his ideas in 1964. Applied kinesiology practitioners are often chiropractors, but may also be osteopathic physicians, dentists, or even conventional physicians. According to the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK), practitioners must first be trained in their respective fields before they can study applied kinesiology in a postgraduate setting.
While suggested uses of AK range from abdominal pain to cancer, diabetes, headache, learning disabilities, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, vertigo, and many other health problems, scientific evidence demonstrating the safety and effectiveness of AK for these conditions is limited, at best.
What should one expect on a visit to a practitioner of applied kinesiology?
A visit begins with a detailed medical history. Next, testing begins with procedures that usually include determining changes in blood pressure from lying to sitting to standing which, according to ICAK, can indicate imbalances in the body. Specific examinations follow, such as tests of skin sensitivity, reflexes, and balance.
Practitioners may also observe a patient’s posture, gait, and range of motion. After these tests are completed, muscle strength is tested against the pressure exerted by the practitioner. If the muscle stands up to pressure, it’s deemed “strong” or “locked”; those that give way to pressure are considered “weak” or “unlocked,” and are deemed indicative of a problem. ICAK considers the use of muscle strength testing alone an abuse of AK, typically by practitioners who have not been properly trained and certified. The organization holds that muscle testing should be done only as part of a complete diagnostic examination. In addition to muscle testing, AK practitioners may also press on “trigger points” to see if they lead to muscle weakness.
When AK is used to determine whether a particular food or other substance weakens (or strengthens) a patient, the food may be placed under the tongue or held in the hand as a muscle is tested. Some practitioners may also assess emotional well-being by testing muscle strength while the patient imagines being in a troubling or tense situation or with a problematic person.
AK-associated treatments range from deep massage, joint manipulation and realignment, craniosacral therapy, and acupuncture to nutritional therapies and dietary manipulation.
Are there any side effects or conditions where applied kinesiology should be avoided?
While generally regarded as harmless for most people, when used alone for someone who is seriously ill, AK could cause a delay in getting proper medical treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, applied kinesiology has occasionally resulted in harm, including one death due to incorrect diagnosis and choice of treatment. Relying on applied kinesiology alone could be dangerous for patients with serious diseases such as cancer.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
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