Modification of the motor system in assessing and treating as well as understanding one of the causes of musculoskeletal dysfunctions is a topic of growing importance in healthcare. Applied kinesiology (AK) addresses this interest in that it is a system which attempts to evaluate numerous aspects of health (structural, chemical, and mental) by the manual testing of muscles combined with other standard methods of diagnosis. It leads to a variety of conservative, non-invasive treatments which involve joint manipulations or mobilizations, myofascial therapies, cranial techniques, meridian and acupuncture skills, clinical nutrition and dietary management, counseling skills, evaluating environmental irritants, and various reflex techniques. The effectiveness of these ancillary treatments is believed to be consistent with the expanded construct validity of the manual muscle test (MMT), as described, although this assertion has primarily been tested in outcome studies. AK and its adjunctive procedures (challenge and therapy localization) are highlighted in this review providing details of its implementation as prescribed by an International College of Applied Kinesiology's Board of Examiners, cited for its scholarly and scientific activities. Because these procedures are believed to identify specific articular, soft tissue, biochemical, or emotional issues underlying muscle function, the applicability of this diagnostic method for all clinicians treating muscle imbalance disorders is described. As of yet, MMT efficacy in therapy localization and challenge techniques has not been established in published, peer-reviewed research. A variety of challenges likewise remain for professional AK to establish itself as an emerging science, with numerous gaps in the literature and testable hypotheses enumerated. Of particular concern are a multiplicity of derivatives of AK that have been described in the literature, which should be greeted with caution in light of the fact that they lack one or more of the essential attributes of AK as described in this report. The validity of these studies which have been critical of applied kinesiology appears in many instances to be no greater than several of the randomized controlled trials, cohort studies, case control studies, and case studies found in this communication to support various aspects of applied kinesiology.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.