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Origins, benefits, efficacy, and methodology

The traditional form of kinesiology or biomechanics had led to the understanding of how nerves stimulate muscles to act on the bones, consequently leading to movement and postures. However, muscle testing existed in biomechanics long before the advent of applied kinesiology. The principles of kinesiology, based on biomechanics, have been used to treat problems occurring in sports, medicine, and industry.

What is kinesiology? Where did it originate?
Kinesiology is a therapeutic profession, similar to physiotherapy. Kinesiology comes from the Greek word kinesis, meaning movement. Applied Kinesiology was started by the work of American chiropractor, George J. Goodheart, Jr., D.C. He founded new methods such as theory and treatment of reactive muscles and his effective treatment technique for sustained muscle use.

Dating back to early literature on kinesiology, Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) is considered to be the earliest pioneers of kinesiology. He is well known for his studies on human structure and function. In 1780, Luigi Galvani made the discovery that muscular contraction occurs due to electrical impulses. He applied a small electrical voltage to the leg of a frog, which caused a twitch due to contraction of the muscles.

In 1964, Goodheart made the discovery that a weak-testing muscle may be made to test strong by massaging its extreme ends where the tendons attach to the bone. Today, this technique is called “origin-insertion technique.”

How is Kinesiology beneficial?
Kinesiology has been able to provide advantages in industries, sports, and medicine. Here is a list of the benefits:

  • Due to studies in biomechanics, it had been possible to design user-friendly tools, chairs, and workstations.
  • Kinesiology helped reduce injuries in industries due to the understanding of how heavy objects can be lifted without damaging the body.
  • Athletes can work with Kinesiologists to better understand how to perform the movements related to their sport in a more efficient manner.
  • The principles of kinesiology have been used in the design of artificial joints
  • Its principles have been used in the development of more successful rehabilitation methods.

Studies/research on efficacy
According to the American Cancer Society, the available scientific evidence does not support the claim that applied kinesiology can diagnose or treat tumors or any other illnesses.”

  • A review of several scientific studies on applied kinesiology was not able to come to any conclusion about the validity of the procedures, such as diagnostic tests.

How is kinesiology done?
Treatment using kinesiology is done in several steps:

  • Muscles are attached at both ends to the bone by tendons to meet at a movable joint. When the muscles contract, they become short. The shortening action pulls one of the attached tendons toward the other.
  • In preparation for the muscle test, the joint over which the muscle attaches is bent. This causes the muscle to shorten, bringing it into a contracted position. The kinesiologist now places his hand to ensure no further contraction to the muscle.
  • Now, the patient steadily contracts his or her muscle from zero force up to maximum force against the resistance applied by the kinesiologist. The practitioner also applies an equal and opposite, and steadily increases resistance to retain the starting position of the muscle test.
  • After the patient has contracted his or her muscle as much as possible, the kinesiologist applies some more force. The whole process should take no more than 2-3 seconds.
  • Now, if the patient can maintain his or her original position against this small force, his or her muscle is tested “strong.” If the patient fails, the muscle is tested “weak.”
  • The test described above has two parts. The first part tests the patient’s ability to contract his or her muscle. The second part of the test checks the patient’s nervous system to see whether it can provide more contraction than what the patient can willfully give.
  • In indicatory muscle testing, a muscle that has been tested strong “in the clear” is used to indicate other types of stimulus. This stimulus is presented by moving a part of the patient’s body that is injured or infected. Such stimulus may cause the same muscle to test weak. Therapy localization is referred to the stimulus provided by the patient while touching himself or herself.

How can you get started with kinesiology?
People who practice applied kinesiology may be naturopaths, nurses, doctors, or other healthcare providers. If you want to apply kinesiology, you will first be evaluated by observing your posture, muscle strength, gait, range of motion, etc.

Risks and Contraindications of Kinesiology
Although no significant risks have been sighted, you are advised to undergo kinesiology under the supervision of reputed professionals and practitioners as this involves force against your muscles.

1.    Robert Frost. Applied Kinesiology: A Training Manual and Reference Book of Basic Principles andPractices.NorthAtlanticBooks;2002.272p.

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