× In order to give you better service and protect your data, we have updated our website Terms of Use and Privacy policy . By continuing to use this website, you accept our new Terms of Use and Privacy policy.
Chat with us x
× Welcome to the new provider portal! We’ve been hard at work developing a fresh look and an easy-to-navigate product for a better experience. To check it out, please log-in above using your previous credentials. For any questions or comments, email us at providers@docdoc.com

What is Applied Kinesiology: Definition & Overview

Definition & Overview

Applied Kinesiology (AK) is a method of diagnosing and treating a variety of functional illnesses by observing the muscles of the body and identifying locations wherein muscle weakness is prevalent. AK uses several approaches when performing a functional assessment, such as manual muscle testing, posture, gait analysis, range of motion, motion analysis, functional neurologic evaluation, and static palpitation.

AK practitioners often combine the results of AK functional assessment methods with standard medical diagnostic methods, such as physical examination, clinical history, instrumentation tests, and laboratory examinations to pinpoint the exact problem and recommend the best treatment option.

It is believed that the study of applied kinesiology began in 1964 when George G. Goodheart Jr., a respected chiropractor, observed the relation between pathologic anomalies and muscle weakness. Today, the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK) continues to develop and propagate the concepts and methods of applied kinesiology. ICAK was established in 1975 and is based in Kansas City, United States.

The basic concept of AK is that when an organ malfunctions, it directly affects a particular muscle group causing them to weaken. This relationship is referred to as a “viscerosomatic relationship.” Therefore, by identifying muscles weakness through functional assessments, such as manual muscle testing and other standard AK tests, and combining them with the results of standard medical diagnostic methods, the failing organ can be identified and treated.

AK makes use of a variety of treatment modalities, such as clinical nutrition, myofascial cranial and meridian therapy, joint manipulation and mobilization, and dietary counseling. Although AK is mainly practiced by chiropractors, the method is slowly gaining popularity amongst other practitioners, such as nutritionists, dentists, medical doctors, and massage and physical therapists. However, it is important to mention that the mainstream medical community has yet to accept the method due to lack of scientific studies and evidence.

When Should You See a Chiropractor?

Chiropractors are health care professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating neuromuscular disorders, with back pain being the most common. Unlike other health care practitioners, chiropractors focus on non-medical or surgical treatment methods. Their form of treatment involves manually manipulating the spine to allow the body to heal itself. Through manual spine manipulation, a chiropractor can restore mobility and relieve muscle pain.

Chiropractors who practice applied kinesiology do not only perform manual spine manipulation but are also capable of diagnosing a variety of organ malfunctions.

One of the reasons why AK has gained popularity over the years is that the treatment methods do not make use of medications and surgery. This has a certain appeal to many people who believe in alternative forms of treatment.

Unfortunately, ever since the practice gained popularity, many unscrupulous individuals claim to have knowledge of applied kinesiology. When seeking AK treatment, make sure that you’re dealing with a licensed health care professional, such as chiropractors who are required to complete postgraduate courses to earn their certification.

A typical AK session with a chiropractor usually begins with an interview about your lifestyle, health, and concerns. During this interview, the chiropractor will already be observing your movements, such as your posture and gait to look for any signs of muscle weakness.

You will then undergo manual muscle testing, after which the chiropractor will perform standard medical diagnostic procedures such as a physical examination and laboratory tests.

Muscle testing has two major components: Localization and Challenges. During a localization test, the chiropractor will identify food and chemical sensitivities and nutritional depletions. The test will involve obtaining chemicals or food that you believe you’re allergic to and placing them under your tongue for about 10 to 15 seconds. During this time, the chiropractor will search for any muscle weakness.

When performing a Challenges test, the chiropractor will ask you to remember a specific event in your past while observing the strength of your muscles.

A typical AK session takes around an hour to complete. The first half will be dedicated to the interview and testing, while the next half is for treatment.

It’s important to understand that AK is not only dedicated to the treatment of certain medical disorders, but also to the prevention of such. By identifying a certain illness while it’s still in its early stages or identifying a potential condition, an AK practitioner will be able to treat the condition and prevent it from ever occurring or from getting worse.


  • Whole Health Chicago, the Center for Integrative Medicine
  • International College of Applied Kinesiology