The Art and Science of Muscle Testing in Applied Kinesiology

As some of you know, muscle testing is a basic in AK. When you test a muscle, you test not only the condition of the muscle itself, but the joint it crosses or moves, the spinal innervations of that muscle, the Chinese meridian (acupuncture energy line) associated w/ that muscle and the organ associated w/ that Chinese meridian and some cranial-sacral faults.

In order to derive this information, muscle testing must be done accurately. You must have a firm knowledge of anatomy (the science) and practice on hundreds of people before muscle testing becomes a skill (or an art); just like driving a car or cooking. Practice makes perfect!

This was hammered into my head the other month by a chiropractor who though she advertised that she did AK; it was obvious by her muscle testing that she did not have the knowledge or the skill.

First the muscle must be tested in the best position for that muscle to hold a contraction. If there is a weak muscle, patients have a natural tendency to recruit other muscles and they will shift their body position to gain an advantage.

Second it’s important that the doctor use the amount of strength appropriate for that patient If a patient has been sick for a long time or frail or a lot smaller then the doctor needs not to overpower the muscle being tested. The doctor needs to make sure the patient understands which way the doctor is pushing (or pulling) and the position in which the extremity needs to be held.

The test should not be done at such a fast rate that the patient never has a chance to develop their resistance vs. the direction of the muscle test. There is danger of muscle or tendon or joint injury if you try to overpower a muscle.

The doctor also needs to stabilize the patient and make sure that the stabilizing hand is not on a tender or painful area as this can cause the patient to let go during testing. Also the doctor needs to careful not to repeatedly test on a painful or pathological joint such as bursitis or a rotator cuff tear. The doctor should take the joint through a full range of motion before testing.

Many of the chiropractic colleges teach Applied Kinesiology as a class however that is not sufficient to master the art and science of muscle testing.

One of best ways to know that the chiropractor you are seeing has been trained properly and is committed to the practice of AK  is to see if they have been certified by the founding organization of Applied Kinesiology which is the International College of Applied Kinesiology ( & ).

The organization authorizes an 100 hour certification courses to licensed doctors (chiropractors, medical doctors, dentists, osteopaths) w/ rigorous practice of technique and knowledge of muscle anatomy and physiology . Doctors then must pass  a written test abd ICAK issues a certificate of completeness /diploma to those doctors.

Dr. Walter Schmitt describes the effectiveness of applied kinesiology and how using manual muscle testing can be an effective tool for understanding the human body through the nervous system.


© 2010-Dr. Vittoria Repetto

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10 responses to “The Art and Science of Muscle Testing in Applied Kinesiology

  1. How does AK differ from ART in terms of treatment? I’ve had great success with ART for specific injuries (tennis elbow, rotator cuff injury, knee), but still have chronic pain along my IT bands and believe it has something to do with body chemistry and not abuse of muscles. I’ve never changed my exercise routine and the pain is almost worst after low impact exercise (walking) then it is after tennis. I do use the Feldenkrais roller when I can stand it. But since it’s so painful I don’t use it regularly.


    • Well, I just looked up ART and it seems to be basically soft tissue techniques.

      In AK we would be checking the alignment of the hip joint, the knee joint, and the pelvis, the condition of the tensor fascia lata, the glutual muscles and the quadriceps…is there a reactive muscle?…(is the adductors muscles inhibiting the TFL), is there a aerobic or anaerobic inhibition pattern?..( since you have more pain on walking then when playing tennis it may be aerobic in which case you may need either iron or Omega 3’s ) do you have elimination issues?…the tensor fascia lata is related to the large intestine meridian… you have an Illio-Cecal value problem? if yes, do you need chlorophyll or acidophilus or Vitamin D. Are you walking on a slope? Do you have foot pronation problems and need orthotics? Do you have a leg length discrepancy and need a heel lift?


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