An article by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times caught my eye. Here are a few excerpts:

“I am sorry, Mrs. Ploni, but the muscle testing we performed on you indicates that your compatibility with your spouse is a 1 out of a possible 10 on the scale.”

“Your son being around his father is bad for his energy levels. You should seek to minimize it.”

“Your husband was born normal, but something happened to his energy levels on account of the vaccinations he received as a child. It is not really his fault, but he is not good for you.”

Welcome to the world of Applied Kinesiology (AK) or health Kinesiology… Incredibly, there are people who now base most of their life decisions on something called “muscle testing.” Practitioners believe or state that the body’s energy levels can reveal remarkable information, from when a bride should get married to whether the next Kinesiology appointment should be in one week or two weeks. Prices for a 45 minute appointment can range from $125 to $250 a session. One doctor who is familiar with people who engage in such pursuits remarked, “You have no idea how many inroads this craziness has made in our community.”

… AK (applied kinesiology) is system that evaluates structural, chemical, and mental aspects of health by using “manual muscle testing (MMT)” along with other conventional diagnostic methods. The belief of AK adherents is that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a weakness in a specific corresponding muscle… Treatments include joint manipulation and mobilization, myofascial, cranial and meridian therapies, clinical nutrition, and dietary counselling. A manual muscle test is conducted by having the patient resist using the target muscle or muscle group while the practitioner applies force the other way. A smooth response is called a “strong muscle” and a response that was not appropriate is called a “weak response.” Like some Ouiji board out of the 1970’s, Applied Kinesiology is used to ask “Yes or No” questions about issues ranging from what type of Parnassa courses one should be taking, to what Torah music tapes one should listen to, to whether a therapist is worthwhile to see or not.

“They take everything with such seriousness – they look at it as if it is Torah from Sinai,” remarked one person familiar with such patients. One spouse of an AK patient was shocked to hear that a diagnosis was made concerning himself through the muscle testing of his wife – without the practitioner having ever met him… And the lines at the office of the AK practitioner are long. One husband holds a crying baby for three hours, while his wife attends a 45 minute session. Why so long? The AK practitioner let other patients ahead – because of emergency needs…


The article  is a reminder how much nonsense happens in the name of alternative medicine. AK is one of the modalities that is exemplary:

  • it is utterly implausible;
  • there is no good evidence that it works.

The only systematic review of AK was published in 2008 by a team known to be strongly in favour of alternative medicine. It included 22 relevant studies. Their methodology was poor. The authors concluded that there is insufficient evidence for diagnostic accuracy within kinesiology, the validity of muscle response and the effectiveness of kinesiology for any condition. 

Some AK fans might now say: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!!! There is no evidence that AK does not work, and therefore we should give it the benefit of the doubt and use it.

This, of course, is absolute BS! Firstly, the onus is on those who claim that AK works to prove their assumption. Secondly, in responsible healthcare, we are obliged to employ those modalities for which the evidence is positive, while avoiding those for which the evidence fails to be positive.


22 Responses to Applied Kinesiology: implausible, unproven, and yet incredibly popular

  • As long as Prof. Ernst is blogging, I don’t need my copy of Grimm’s Fairytales.

    I’d not heard of AK before. How many more off the wall applications of gibberish provide income to charlatans?

  • I agree with Ernst. Muscle testing has poor inter and intra examiner reliability. In addition, even if it did have good reliability, what does a weak or strong muscle mean regarding some distant anatomical part or physiological function?

    • @Michael Epstein on Monday 17 July 2017 at 10:49

      No, non-doctor, it has no “inter and intra examiner reliability” at all when used in AK, just as the bogus methods you use have none.

      • Interesting how these ‘CBP chiropractors’ suggest their methods are ‘evidenced-based’ by pointing to one or two studies that use ‘extension-traction’ (without controls) demonstrating pain relief in uniformly self-limiting conditions.
        Their methods (trying to “restore” a mathematical normal spine-alignment) maintain the same “innate-healing/nerve-interference” model of their chastised brethren, suggesting virtually ANY human malady is at-root caused via ‘spine/postural’ mis-configuration. (Perhaps they should read Professor Eyal Lederman’s’ paper: the fall of the postural, structural, biomechanical model) and recognize their real passion actually lies squarely in the lucrative ‘financial-remuneration-model’.
        Those unfamiliar; CBP often utilizes innumerable x-rays and the same ‘fear tactics’ as subluxationists……”your life and future are being destroyed by bad-posture….and ONLY my methods can get to the “real cause” and “fix” it….and it takes a LONG time….but it’s worth every penny”.
        CBP-practices often maintain the highest’ per patient treatment regimes of any Chiropractic technique as they press the gullible into months and months of often painful, unproven and dubious ‘traction’ and ‘postural-adjustment’ protocols costing thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours.
        Like all of CAM: get paid first, prove later.

    • Good day!
      Is there research on the topic of (un) reliability of muscl testing?

  • When I taught physics, I used to demonstrate “applied kinesiology” by “muscle testing”. I asked the pupils to choose which object would make them weak and where that weakness must be located. Then I’d show them how to do it. It’s remarkably simple, given a basic understanding of forces and turning moments.

    Similarly, I used to demonstrate the “power bracelet” effect on things like flexibility and balance, using things like a “magic scrap of paper” or a “really magic Magic Marker”.

    • Can you explain how you demonstrated this. I have a family member deeply sold on this and I know ishe’s Being taken advantage of.

      • @Judy Beno:

        Here’s one way to do it:

        Patient (mark?) supine on table/bench. Asked to raise arm to vertical and to keep it straight and raised while you push it down. In “normal” mode, you then hold the arm firmly at the wrist, and push at an angle such that some of the force is going along the arm. (& hence less is going into rotating the shoulder joint); the patient is “strong”.

        You then put the “weakening agent” on the “afflicted” part of the body, and repeat, but this time your force goes mostly perpendicular to the arm. It cannot resist!

        You need to practice a bit so that you can achieve a distinct difference with the subject feeling no difference in the way you push. A tight grip helps to conceal it.

        I first encountered this crap from a chiropractor; he even actually changed his stance when he wanted to demonstrate the “weakening” agent.


  • A gypsy trick brought into the mainstream world of nut-job Chiropractic by George Goodheart DC. and generously shared with other frauds worldwide.
    Fortunately only about 50% of Chiropractors claim to rely on AK to determine which theatrical placebo to employ on the ‘mark’…..the rest rely on “real scientific” tests such as ‘short legs’, motion-palpation, thermography, ’tissue texture’ and x-ray subluxation analysis.

  • Perhaps Mrs Ploni’s incompatibility with her house is a result of its being illegal?

  • Applied kinesiology is the basis of NAET, and NAET saved my life. I used to call myself the walking dead because I was constantly and miserably sick. Haven’t been sick for 7 years now! Many years spent in misery. I am 56!

    • in case someone does no know what NAET is:

      NAET® was discovered by Dr. Devi S. Nambudripad in November of 1983. Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Techniques, also known as NAET, are a non-invasive, drug free, natural solution to alleviate allergies of all types and intensities using a blend of selective energy balancing, testing and treatment procedures from acupuncture/acupressure, allopathy, chiropractic, nutritional, and kinesiological disciplines of medicine.
      One allergen is treated at a time. If you are not severely immune deficient, you may need just one treatment to desensitize one allergen. A person with mild to moderate amount of allergies may take about 15-20 office visits to desensitize 15-20 food and environmental allergens.
      Basic essential nutrients are treated during the first few visits. Chemicals, environmental allergens, vaccinations, immunizations, etc. are treated after completing about ten basic essential nutrients. NAET can successfully alleviate adverse reactions to egg, milk, peanuts, penicillin, aspirin, mushrooms, shellfish, latex, grass, ragweed, flowers, perfume, animal dander, animal epithelial, make-up, chemicals, cigarette smoke, pathogens, heat, cold, other environmental agents. It may take several office visits to desensitize a severe allergen.
      NAET is available all over the world. Over 12,000 licensed practitioners have been trained in NAET procedures and are practicing all over the world. To help you find a NAET specialist, the names of the trained practitioners have been listed on our website under the Find a Practitioner section. We ask that you browse the NAET website for more information on NAET and use our practitioner locator to find a NAET practitioner near you.
      All NAET practitioners in the practitioner locator have been trained by Dr. Nambudripad, but it is not possible for us to track each practitioner’s performance. Please understand that these trained NAET practitioners are independent medical practitioners, some may be doing various treatment procedures other than NAET.

      • In the UK, only medical practitioners registered with the GMC can style themselves as a ‘medical practitioner’.

        Shirley is lucky she responded to the technique – but of course a single patient report does not constitute evidence worthy of the name. I wonder what else triggered Shirley’s recovery? And I wonder what pathological condition it was that would have killed her. Can she advise us further please?

      • It’s worth pointing out that Prof Ernst was simply quoting standard NAET propaganda text: I doubt he believes what it claimed for it…

  • Yes indeed there are many believers and disbelievers in science and pseudoscience but who draws the line?Scientists , or pseudoscientists? However If a man can honestly believe and actuate dismembering male children ,some babies ,by circumcision and in some cases personally suck the blood from the wound probably charge a fee,Then have the nerve to talk against health practitioners of any denomination is incredulous and tantamount to arrogance in its lowest form….I think this is a pot calling the kettle black..

  • I have been to a few Applied Kinesiology study groups where demos by the instructor were followed by the chiropractors in the room all trying it. Damned if I could ever tell the difference in muscle weaknesses. The interesting – and tragic – thing about chiropractors is that they blame themselves when they cannot feel the energy, feel the muscle weakness (that does not exist), or their practice is failing because of too much competition. I have estimated 10 to 12 times too many chiropractors than there is business for them – based on a number of conservative assumptions. Even the “practice managers” were hollering – “stop graduating chiropractors! the market is saturated.” A saturated market is never a good investment, and for what good they can contribute to society – another assumption – the loudest voices that “there has never been a better time to be a chiropractor” are those that gain directly from it – the colleges, academics, and researchers.

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