(Investigator 68, 1999 September)

Applied Kinesiology is the name coined by a chiropractor, Dr. George Goodheart, in 1964, for the specific testing of muscles to reveal the need for chiropractic manipulation. His method is based on the theory that weak muscles on one side of the body can cause normal opposing muscles to become tight. In addition to manipulation, the system also utilises nutrition, diet and acupressure.

For every motion a muscle makes there is a corresponding muscle which opposes that motion. Goodheart reasoned that if a "tight" muscle (identified by a spasm, pain or knot), is the one that flexes the arm for example, then one could reasonably expect to find weakness in the muscle that extends it.

Applied kinesiology, then, is a diagnostic tool for identifying the precise muscle requiring treatment. Should the symptoms not be relieved after applying the appropriate manipulation, then Applied Kinesiology assumes that the weakness has its root cause in an allergy. A further test consists of taking a small amount of the suspect substance in the mouth and chewing but not swallowing and applying a standard Applied Kinesiology test to see if the muscle goes weak.

In conventional medicine Kinesiology is the name given to the study of muscular movement (i.e. leverage, rotation, force, etc.) by physical education specialists and those who study body movements scientifically. It is in no way connected with Applied Kinesiology or A-K.

Applied Kinesiology has been employed by non-scientific health practitioners since the mid 1960s, and although A-K can be seen to be very impressive when applied to those persons susceptible to suggestion or tactile stimulation, the associations which the testing procedure allegedly reveal are highly suspect – the kind of music one should listen to, the colours one should paint their house, food compatibility or nutritional status on the basis of individual responses.

When subjected to testing A-K proved unable to live up to its claims according to a report by the American Dietetic Association in 1988. (NCAF 1988). Eleven subjects were evaluated independently by three experienced A-K practitioners for four nutrients (thiamine, zinc, vitamins A and C).

The results obtained from the A-K practitioners were compared with (a) each other for inter-examiner reliability;  (b) standard laboratory tests of nutrient status for validity; and (c) computerized isometric muscle-testing to test the validity of the subjective "strong" and "weak" muscular responses. The researchers found no significant correlation between practitioners, biochemical tests or objectively measured muscular strength and A-K.

The report concludes "that the use of applied kinesiology to evaluate nutrient status is no more useful than random guessing."


Grossman, Richard. 1986. The Other Medicines. Pan Books.
NCAF Newsletter, 1988. A-K found unreliable for nutrition 1988 Jan/Apr.
Smutts, Jan Christian. 1961. Holism and Evolution. Viking, New York.
Stalker, D. and Glymour, C. (1985). Examining Holistic Medicine. Prometheus Books, Buffalo. NY.
Stanway, Andrew. 1982. Alternative Medicine. Penguin.
Kastner, Mark A. Alternative Healing. Halcyon Publishing, La Mesa, California.
Krieger, Delores. 1979. The Therapeutic Touch. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Thie, J.F. 1979. Touch for Health. De Vorss & Co. Manna del Rey, CA.

From: A Skeptic's Guide to the New Age, Harry Edwards.

Over 100 skeptical articles by Harry Edwards on this website: