Dr. Adam Baumgardner

Muscle Testing Allergies, and other stuff: The Good, The Bad, The Video!

Collage of several of Gray's muscle pictures, ...
Not all muscle testing is the same. The different types are used for different types of problems.                                                                   -Image via Wikipedia

          Many are confused about muscle testing, if they even know what it is.  Some have heard of muscle testing allergies, some have heard of muscle testing for other reasons, and some have never heard of it all!  This blog will hopefully clear a few things up. 

          First of all not all muscle testing is the same.  There are several different types.  This confuses a lot of people and so they lump everything else in with what they had done to them.  This can be bad or good, but it is always confusing.  Here are the three main types:

1. Applied Kinesiology

          Also known as AK, this is where you check strength of a muscle and compare it side to side.  The idea here is that while you will get differences between the left and right naturally… as we are all left and right handed, you should still get nice resistance if the neurology and joint structure is working as it should.  When there is a big difference from side to side the practitioner searches for the disconnect.  Post treatment then they should re-check and see great improvement in the strength and the ‘lock’ of the muscle.

2. Response Testing (the type used for muscle testing allergies)

Allergens can be checked by holding part of the allergen, often contained in a glass vial, and checking musculature. Image By Helena Liu

            This is where you check a muscle, any muscle, pre and post exposure to a stimuli.  This stimuli can be potential allergens, stimulation of acupuncture points, homeopathics, nutritional supplements, etc.  A change in strength here usually indicates how the body will respond to that stimuli.  This is the type you use as muscle testing allergies and sensitivites and it can also figure out what the body needs in the case of acupuncture or other healing modalities. 

3. Suggestion

            The brain is aware of everything we are doing and what is happening to us.  With this in mind it isn’t that strange that musculature can become weaker or stronger with certain mental pictures.  Ask any psychologist about psychosomatic behavior… but be ready for a long discussion!  With this in mind certain techniques like NeuroEmotionalTechnique (NET) and others will say or have the person read a variety of things and see what happens to the musculature.  Depending on the way the practitioner is doing it a weak or strong response can mean a positive or negative response just like with Response Testing. 

Does it work?

          People often ask if this really works or if the practitioner is just pushing harder.  Or they say ‘wait I wasn’t ready!’  My favorite is the big muscular guys who at first can’t be budged and then I can use my pinky to bring their arm down… they really don’t like that 😉 

          The answer to the question of ‘does it work’ is yes and no.  It isn’t as sensitive a test as say blood work in the case of allergens.  It can be wrong in the case of joint dysfunction, but most of the time it is quite accurate and very cost effective.  To have a blood test done for $300 versus a quick muscle test, that costs no more than the evaluation it is part, of is a big difference for the 10% more sensitivity that blood work has in the case of food allergens.  

          When it doesn’t work it is usually an error on the part of the practitioner.  Unlike blood tests there is some art to muscle testing that has to develop with time and practice.  Also, just like everyone else, the practitioner can become confused and use the wrong type of muscle testing for the wrong thing.  This will almost never work and come up with false responses. 

Cheating with Muscle testing

Applied Kinesiology Demonstration

You need to be able to trust the person muscle testing you. Image by mandydax via Flickr

 There are unscrupulous people out there.  They sometimes use muscle testing at trade shows or fairs to sell products.  What they do isn’t even pushing harder.  They just change the angle of pull.  If you ‘seat’ the joint you push into it and give it more mechanical advantage.  If you pull it out of the joint you ‘unseat’ it and it becomes weaker.  They use this principle to trick people into thinking their product is good for them.  Don’t be fooled by this.  This kind of response testing can work, but you should be able to trust the person to be honest about it and not change the angle of pull.  If you can’t trust them beware.

Japanese Documentary

            There is a kind of muscle testing called Bi-Digital O-Ring testing.  This is a Japanese form of muscle testing that has had some great research done in hospitals in Japan.  It is Response Testing at its finest and there was even a documentary about it on the Japanese version of NOVA.  You can watch it for free here: Muscle Testing


          If you are looking into muscle testing allergies or for any other reason keep an open mind and first and formost find someone you feel/think you can trust to do it.  It can be very helpful, but  as it isn’t perfect it should be part of a whole range of methods of diagnosis used by your practitioner,  be they Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, Naturopath or MD.