A force/displacement analysis of muscle testing

Percept Mot Skills. 2000 Oct;91(2):683-92. doi: 10.2466/pms.2000.91.2.683.


Manual muscle testing procedures are the subject of a force and displacement analysis. Equipment was fabricated, tested, and employed to gather force, displacement, and time data for the purpose of examining muscle-test parameters as used by clinicians in applied kinesiology. Simple mathematical procedures are used to process the data to find potential patterns of force and displacement which would correspond to the testing of strong and weak muscles of healthy subjects. Particular attention is paid to the leading edge of the force pulses, as most clinicians report they derive most of their assessment from the initial thrust imparted on the patient's limb. An analysis of the simple linear regression of the slope (distance vs force) of the leading edge of a force pulse indicates that a significantly large slope is indicative of weak muscles (as perceived by the clinician), and a small slope is indicative of strong muscles. Threshold criteria for slopes are specified to create a model that may discriminate between strong and weak muscles. The model is accurate 98% of the time compared to judgments of clinicians with more than 5 years of experience but is considerably lower for clinicians with less than five years of experience (64%). this accuracy rate indicates that the model is reliable in predicting the clinician's perception of muscle strength, and it also indicates that the testing procedure for muscle strength used by experienced clinicians in applied kinesiology are reliable. The experiment lays the groundwork for studies of the objectivity of muscle-strength assessment in applied kinesiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction*
  • Kinesthesis*
  • Pectoralis Muscles
  • Professional Competence
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Transducers, Pressure