In the purest form, kinesiology is the study of muscles and movement. When used in a clinical setting, it becomes an evaluation and treatment tool for restoring overall health balance to the body. Its beginnings originated in the 1960s as a clinical science from work performed by Dr. George Goodheart. Over time, many branches have developed with different specialties. To date, there are around 80 different types of kinesiology. Many colleges offer kinesiology degrees that are more focused on sports physiology.

This is different than the clinical use of kinesiology. Some refer to the use of kinesiology in the clinical setting as “muscle testing”. Others refer to these techniques as specialized kinesiology. At a basic level, it is the art and science of using neuromuscular feedback from the body to achieve optimal health. The kinesiologist may use various healing modalities. These modalities include body work as it performed in applied kinesiology or may include nutritional, herbal, homeopathic or supplement recommendations.

Applied Kinesiology

Applied kinesiology (AK) is a form of diagnosis using muscle testing as an evaluation of how a person’s body is functioning. When properly applied, the outcome of an AK diagnosis will determine the best form of therapy for the patient. Since AK draws together the core elements of many complementary therapies, it provides an interdisciplinary approach to health care.

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, adjustments, neuro-emotional reflexes, various myofascial therapies, cranial techniques, meridian therapy, clinical nutrition, dietary management and various reflex procedures, such as neuro-lymphatic and neuro-vascular reflexes.  In some cases, the examiner may test for environmental or food sensitivities by using a previously strong muscle to find what weakens it. Applied kinesiology muscle testing works because of the mind(brain) – body interaction. Each muscle test is an evaluation of the integrity of the central nervous system. A problem can occur, affecting a particular muscle test, in any area of the nervous system: Cerebral Cortex (emotions), Hypothalamus (biochemistry), Cerebellum (structure), brainstem, spinal cord, nerve root, or peripheral nerve. The nervous system disturbance can result in organ or gland dysfunction, such as digestive problems or hormone imbalance, muscle weakness, spinal instability, pain, biochemical imbalances, fatigue, and even emotional and personality changes.

Once a muscle is found to be either “weak” or “strong” (technically called neurologically inhibited or facilitated), a sensory stimulation is applied to test the outcome. When pressure is applied to the body, muscle receptors send messages to the brain; when something is placed in the mouth, either food, drugs, nutrition, or herbs, the taste receptors signal that event to the brain; or when the patient thinks about a stress or positive event, the cortex is activated. If the nervous system is negatively affected by that sensory stimulation, a weakening of a strong muscle may occur, if the nervous system is positively affected, a strengthening of a weak muscle may occur. It is simply a neurological reflex.

Typical examples:
A weak muscle is found, pressure is applied to the area of the spine, stimulating joint mechanoreceptors that send messages to the cerebellum and on up to the cerebral cortex (which controls muscle tone). If that stimulation drives an impaired pathway, the muscle will strengthen.
A weak muscle is found; a nutrient such as vitamin B12 is placed in the mouth stimulating taste and other sensory receptors that send messages to the hypothalamus, and on up to the cortex. If that sensory stimulation is positive, the muscle will strengthen.
A strong muscle is found, a suspected food allergen is placed in the mouth, again stimulating the cortex and hypothalamus. If the food is an actual allergen or causes neuro-immunological responses in the body, the muscle will weaken.
Applied kinesiology uses the triad of health – chemical, mental and structural factors – to describe the proper balance of the major health categories. The triad is represented by an equilateral triangle with structural health as its base, and the upright sides representing chemical and mental health. When a person experiences poor health, it is due to an imbalance in one or more of these three factors.
The triad of health is interactive and all sides must be evaluated for the underlying cause of a problem.


Determines needs of the body and allows treatment in animals using a human surrogate for muscle testing.


Degrees and certificates are typically obtained by two different groups. Applied kinesiology is only taught to those who have a health oriented degree. They include people like chiropractors, osteopaths, medical doctors and doctors of Oriental medicine. The remaining types of kinesiology are taught to those who wish to learn the techniques for self use. Acquiring certifications in various types of kinesiology allows one to practice in some states that don’t require licensure. This, however, must be accompanied by a disclaimer form stating one’s non-licensed status and intentions to stay within the legal guidelines set forth by the state.

There are two main primary associations one may join as a specialized kinesiologist: the Energy Kinesiology Association and the International Association of Specialized Kinesiologists.