Common Questions and Answers about Applied Kinesiology

AK is an interdisciplinary approach to health care, which draws together the core elements of complement therapies, creating a more unified approach to the diagnosis and treatment of functional illness. A.K. uses functional assessment measures such as posture and gait analysis, manual muscle testing as functional neurologic evaluation, range of motion, static palpation, and motion analysis. These assessments are used in conjunction with standard methods of diagnosis, such as, clinical history, physical examination findings, laboratory tests, and instrumentation to develop a clinical impression of the unique physiologic condition of each patient including an impression of the patients functional physiologic status. When appropriate, this clinical impression is used as a guide to the application of conservative physiologic therapeutics.

The practice of applied kinesiology requires that it be used in conjunction with other standard diagnostic methods by professionals trained in clinical diagnosis. As such, the use of Applied Kinesiology or its component assessment procedures is appropriate only to individuals licensed to perform those procedures.

PAK™, Professional Applied Kinesiology™, and the PAK logo (below) are designations of Certification status. In the United States, these terms may only be used by ICAK-U.S.A. Active Doctor members who have satisfied the ICAK certification criteria.

Professional Applied Kinesiology (PAK) Logo, What is PAK™ and Professional Applied Kinesiology™ and who is eligible?, ICAK-USA: FAQs

In 2005, the ICAK-U.S.A. Board of Directors determined that it should file for a number of federal trademarks to ensure the continued quality of practice and to protect the legacy of Dr. George Goodheart and the many decades of activities by ICAK and its members. ICAK’s International Board of Research and Standards establishes the standards for PAK certification, as it has for DIBAK certification since the organization was formed in 1975. ICAK’s International Board of Examiners oversees practical, written, and oral testing and examination.

ICAK-USA promotes the system of Applied Kinesiology™ invented by its founder, Dr. Goodheart, by supporting research, education, advertising of opportunities for training, and certification of individuals who are licensed to diagnose.  For these reasons, the Board introduced a certification status for ICAK-USA members, protected for use by qualified doctors using AK, that have demonstrated additional abilities by meeting the requirements for certification.  These designations serve an important purpose.  Their use indicates to the public and to the professional communities that these members had been educated, tested and certified by the ICAK.  Additionally, certified doctors continue to expand their proficiency and abilities in order to bring the highest quality care to their patients.

The requirements for PAKTM Certification status are:

  • Individual MUST be a doctor member of the ICAK-U.S.A. in good standing – current in dues and all other financial obligations to ICAK-U.S.A. as well as meet all requirements of membership.
  • Individual MUST take a 100-hour class from an approved DIBAK.
  • Individual MUST take and pass both a practical exam and a written exam.
  • Individual MUST recertify every 5 years by attending an ICAK-USA Annual Meeting.

Current PAK® Members include: ICAK-U.S.A. members who are Diplomates (DIBAKs) or who are certified to use the PAK designation must  remain in good standing as a member and recertify (above) in order to maintain their Certification status.

The ICAK, founded in 1975, is an international group of nation chapters composed of health care practitioners, medical doctors, chiropractors, osteopaths and dentists, who specialize in AK. Some chapters include the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Switzerland and Russia. More information can be found on the ICAK website.

The International College of Applied Kinesiology provides a clinical and academic arena for investigating. substantiating, and propagating applied kinesiology (A.K.) findings and concepts pertinent to the relationships between structural, chemical, and mental factors in health and disease and the relationship between structural faults and the disruption of homeostasis exhibited in functional illness.

The origin of contemporary applied kinesiology is traced to 1964 when George G. Goodheart Jr., D.C., first observed that in the absence of congenital or pathologic anomaly, postural distortion is often associated with muscles that fail to meet the demands of muscle tests designed to maximally isolate specific muscles. He observed that tender nodules were frequently palpable within the origin and/or insertion of the tested muscle. Digital manipulation of these areas of apparent muscle dysfunction improved both postural balance and the outcome of manual muscle tests. Goodheart and others have since observed that many conservative treatment methods improve neuromuscular function as perceived by manual muscle testing. These treatment methods have become the fundamental applied kinesiology approach to therapy. Included in the A.K. approach are specific joint manipulation or mobilization, various myofascial therapies, cranial techniques, meridian therapy, clinical nutrition, dietary management, and various reflex: procedures. With expanding investigation there has been continued amplification and modification of the treatment procedures. Although many treatment techniques incorporated into applied kinesiology were preexisting. Many new methods have been developed within the discipline itself.

Often the indication of dysfunction is the failure of a muscle to perform properly during the manual muscle test. This may be due to improper facilitation or neuromuscular inhibition. In theory some of the proposed etiologies for the muscle dysfunction are as follows:

  • Myofascial or proprioceptive dysfunctions and micro avulsions
  • Peripheral nerve entrapment
  • Spinal segmental facilitation and deafferentation
  • Neurologic disorganization
  • Viscerosomatic relationships (aberrant autonomic reflexes)
  • Nutritional inadequacy
  • Toxic chemical influences
  • Dysfunction in production or circulation of cerebrospinal fluid
  • Adverse mechanical tension in the meningeal membranes
  • Meridian system imbalance
  • Lymphatic and vascular impairment

On the basis of response to therapy, it appears that in some of these conditions the primary dysfunction is due to deafferentation, the loss of normal sensory stimulation of neurons due to functional interruption of afferent receptors? It may occur under many circumstances, but is best understood by the concept that with abnormal joint function (subluxation or fixation) the aberrant movement causes improper stimulation of the local joint and muscle receptors? This changes the transmission from these receptors through the peripheral nerves to the spinal cord, brainstem, cerebellum, cortex, and then to the effectors from their normally expected stimulation. Symptoms of deafferentation arise from numerous levels such as motor, sensory, autonomic, and consciousness, or from anywhere throughout the neuroaxis.

Applied kinesiology interactive assessment procedures represent a form of functional biomechanical and functional neurologic evaluation. The term “functional biomechanics” refers to the clinical assessment of posture, organized motion such as in gait, and ranges of motion. Muscle testing readily enters into the assessment of postural distortion, gait impairment and altered range of motion. During a functional neurologic evaluation, muscle tests are used to monitor the physiologic response to a physical, chemical or mental stimulus. The observed response is correlated with clinical history and physical exam findings and, as indicated, with laboratory tests and any other appropriate standard diagnostic methods. Applied kinesiology procedures are not intended to be used as a single method of diagnosis. Applied kinesiology examination should enhance standard diagnosis, not replace it.

In clinical practice the following stimuli are among those that have been observed to alter the outcome of a manual muscle test:

  • Transient directional force applied to the spine, pelvis, cranium and extremities
  • Stretching of a muscle, joint, ligament, and/or tendon
  • The patient’s digital contact over the skin of a suspect area of dysfunction termed therapy localization
  • Repetitive contraction of muscle or motion of a joint
  • Stimulation of the olfactory receptors by fumes of a chemical substance
  • Gustatory stimulation, usually by nutritional material
  • A phase of diaphragmatic respiration
  • The patient’s mental visualization of an emotional, motor, or sensory stressor activity
  • Response to other sensory stimuli such as touch, nociceptor, hot, cold, visual, auditory, and vestibular afferentation

Manual muscle tests evaluate the ability of the nervous system to adapt the muscle to meet the changing pressure of the examiners test. This requires that the examiner be trained in the anatomy, physiology, and neurology of muscle function. The action of the muscle being tested, as well as the role of synergistic muscles, must be understood. Manual muscle testing is both a science and an art. To achieve accurate results, muscle tests must be performed according to a precise testing protocol. The following factors must be carefully considered when testing muscles in clinical and research settings.

  • Proper positioning so the test muscle is the prime mover
  • Adequate stabilization of regional anatomy
  • Observation of the manner in which the patient or subject assumes and maintains the test position
  • Observation of the manner in which the patient or subject performs the test
  • Consistent timing, pressure, and position
  • Avoidance of preconceived impressions regarding the test outcome by the tester
  • Utilizing non-painful contact ensuring a non-painful execution of the test
  • Contraindications due to age, debilitative disease, acute pain and local pathology or inflammation

In applied kinesiology a close clinical association has been observed between specific muscle dysfunction and related organ or gland dysfunction. This viscerosomatic relationship is but one of the many sources of muscle weakness. Placed into perspective and properly correlated with other diagnostic input, it gives the physician an indication of the organs or glands to consider as possible sources of health problems. In standard diagnosis, body language such as paleness, fatigue, and lack of color in the capillaries and arterioles of the internal surface of the lower eyelid gives the physician an indication that anemia can be present. A diagnosis of anemia is only justified by laboratory analysis of the patient’s blood. In a similar manner, the muscle-organ/gland association and other considerations in applied kinesiology give indication for further examination to confirm or rule out an association in the particular case being studied. It is the physician’s total diagnostic workup that determines the final diagnosis.

An applied kinesiology-based examination and therapy are of great value in the management of common functional health problems when used in conjunction with information obtained from a functional interpretation of the clinical history, physical and laboratory examinations and from instrumentation. Applied kinesiology helps the physician understand functional symptomatic complexes. In assessing a patients status, it is important to understand any pathologic states or processes that may be present prior to instituting a form of therapy for what appears to be functional health problem.

Applied kinesiology-based procedures are administered to achieve the following examination and therapeutic goals:

  • Provide an interactive assessment of the functional health status of an individual which is not equipment intensive but does emphasize the importance of correlating findings with standard diagnostic procedures
  • Restore postural balance, correct gait impairment, improve range of motion
  • Restore normal afferentation to achieve proper neurologic control and/or organization of body function
  • Achieve homeostasis of endocrine, immune, digestive, and other visceral function Intervene earlier in degenerative processes to prevent delay the onset of frank pathologic processes.

When properly performed, applied kinesiology can provide valuable insights into physiologic dysfunctions; however, many individuals have developed methods that use muscle testing (and related procedures) in a manner inconsistent with the approach advocated by the International College of Applied Kinesiology. Clearly the utilization of muscle testing and other A. K. procedures does not necessarily equate with the practice of applied kinesiology as defined by the ICAK.

There are both lay persons and professionals who use a form of manual muscle testing without the necessary expertise to perform specific and accurate tests. Some fail to coordinate the muscle testing findings with other standard diagnostic procedures. These may be sources of error that could lead to misinterpretation of the condition present and thus to improper treatment or failure to treat the appropriate condition. For these reasons, the International College of Applied Kinesiology defines the practice of applied kinesiology as limited to health cue professionals licensed to diagnose.

An organized basic course in applied kinesiology, covering 100 hours of instruction, was first established in 1976. Due to the many advancements in AK, this syllabus has been modified and updated continually since then. After completing the 100 hour basic course, the student doctor can take other advanced courses taught by certified teaching diplomates of the college. In order to teach courses for ICAK credit towards its diplomate status, the instructor must be a board certified diplomate? The certification process is organized and administered by the International Board of Examiners. This group consists of Diplomates from almost all of the chapters and is composed of medical doctors, osteopaths and chiropractors. The requirements that must be met to apply for the test to become a Diplomate are:

  • 300 hours of instruction in applied kinesiology from certified teaching Diplomates.
  • 3 years practicing applied kinesiology
  • Writing 2 research papers based on some aspect of applied kinesiology
  • Passing a 5 part written test on various topics in applied kinesiology
  • Taking and passing an extensive practical test on AK
  • Who can teach courses in applied kinesiology for ICAK credit?

The teachers of AK must first be Diplomates in applied kinesiology having passed the testing procedures of the International Board of Examiners. After this they can apply for status in the Board of Certified Teachers (BCT). Maintaining active teaching status has specific requirements that must be met every three years.

The International College of Applied Kinesiology-U.S.A. defines the practice of Applied Kinesiology as limited to health care professionals “licensed to diagnose.”

Most members of the ICAK-U.S.A. have taken a basic course that takes over 100 hours of classroom study and practice to complete. A basic proficiency exam in AK must be passed at the conclusion of the course. A minimum of 300 hours of AK instruction, passage of written and practical examinations, and submission of two (2) original research papers are required to become a Diplomate of the International Board of Applied Kinesiology (DIBAK). A Diplomate represents the highest level of certification in AK.

Actually the College is an association of license to diagnose health care practitioners who have joined together because of their interest in Applied Kinesiology. Those courses are limited to license to diagnose health-care practitioners and/or students enrolled in an accredited college program who, upon completion, will be granted a license to diagnose. If this applies to you, please see our Seminars and Events Calendar for more information on courses offered.

  • ATC – Athletic Trainer, Certified
  • BCAO – Board Certified Atlas Orthogonist
  • CCEP – Certified Chiropractic Extremity Practitioner
  • CCH – Certified in Classical Homeopathy
  • CCN – Certified Clinical Nutritionist
  • CCRD – Certified Chiropractic Rehabilitation Doctor
  • CCSP – Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician
  • CCST – Certified Chiropractic in Spinal Trauma
  • CNS – Certified Nutrition Specialist
  • CSCS – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
  • DAAPM – Diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management
  • DABCN – Diplomate, American Board of Chiropractic Neurologists
  • DABCO – Diplomate of the American Board of Chiropractors
  • DACBI – Diplomate American Board of Chiropractic Internists
  • DACBN – Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Nutrition
  • DACBN – Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition
  • DACBSP—Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians
  • DACNB – Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board
  • DC – Doctor of Chiropractic
  • DDS – Doctor of Dentistry
  • DHM – Doctor of Homeopathic Medicine
  • DIBAK – Diplomate of the International Board of Applied Kinesiology
  • DICCP – Diplomate of the International Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics
  • DO – Doctor of Osteopathy
  • DOM – Doctor of Oriental Medicine
  • FIACA – Fellow of the International Academy of Clinical Acupuncture
  • FIAMA – Fellow, International Academy of Medical Acupuncture
  • FICS – Fellow of the International Craniopathic Society
  • IAMA – International Academy of Medical Acupuncture
  • LAC – Licensed Acupuncturist
  • LDN – Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist
  • MD – Doctor of Medicine
  • MS – Master of Science
  • MSOM – Master of Science, Oriental Medicine
  • ND – Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
  • NMD – Naturopathic Medical Doctor
  • NMD – Neuromuscular Dentistry

Yes, please visit our Find a Doctor page.

If you need further assistance locating a doctor do not hesitate to call the ICAK-U.S.A. Central Office, (913) 384-5336, and a member of the ICAK-U.S.A. staff will help you.

The International College of Applied Kinesiology-U.S.A. membership and courses offered by it’s Diplomates (those licensed to teach) are only open to those individuals who are health care practitioners, licensed to diagnose, or students enrolled in an accredited college program who, upon completion, will be granted a license to diagnose.

Additionally, all members must agree to the following policy:
I will not engage in any action, behavior or conduct including slander, libel or insults to a current member, perspective member, speaker, ICAK-USA Board member or Central Office Staff. I will not post negative comments that promote hateful ideology or harassment on public forums, social media at ICAK-USA-related events or in virtual platform chat.