Energy kinesiology offers massage therapists tools for assessing opposing and synergistic muscles, as well as tools capable of establishing other influential factors.

For example, the body, mind and energy relationships indicated by imbalanced chakras and meridian-energy flows, disruptive emotions and attitudes, and blocked lymph and blood reflexes, can all contribute to stress in our bodies. A skilled energy kinesiologist has a communication tool that can identify sources of a bodily problem, and therefore result in a client’s healing success.

There has been quite a bit of research done on kinesiology — especially kinesiology taping. Research on energy kinesiology is lagging.

Unlocked Muscles

Energy kinesiology stems from applied kinesiology, which was developed by chiropractor George Goodheart in 1964. He discovered the importance of unlocked muscles in the function of the body. Unlocked muscles are those that move out of a contracted state, those that do not hold against a small amount of pressure when they should have the ability to do so. Any muscle should be able to hold its contracted state against two pounds of pressure. If it can’t, there is something interrupting the function of its ability to stay contracted.

Goodheart realized that there was a relationship between unlocked muscles and points on the body and head, originally discovered in the 1920s by osteopaths Frank Chapman and Terence Bennett. The points on the body are called neurolymphatics and the points on the head are called neurovasculars. Goodheart also found that touching or massaging the points on the body and head brought the unlocked muscles back to the contracted state.

Goodheart, with the help of other chiropractors, set down the rules that would govern this type of therapy. Today, only health-care professionals licensed to diagnose and prescribe can practice applied kinesiology. It’s often used by physicians, osteopaths, chiropractors and dentists in the examination process.

Applied Kinesiology is learned through a 100-hour study program that leads to a basic proficiency test. Diplomate status is earned through 300 hours of study, a minimum of two research papers and another exam.

John Thie, D.C., a colleague of Goodheart’s, felt that some of the basic knowledge and techniques from applied kinesiology could be taught to laypeople for self-care. He named this simple preventive health system Touch for Health.

Touch for Health is one type of energy kinesiology taught by certified instructors in 50 countries worldwide. The classes provide continuing-education units for massage therapists, nurses and other health-care practitioners. From Touch for Health’s start in 1970, numerous other techniques have been developed that also fall under the umbrella of energy kinesiology (formerly known as specialized kinesiology).

Energy kinesiology can incorporate many holistic modalities, such as reflexology, sound, light, flower essences, massage, nutrition and exercise. It encompasses relationships between muscles and the Chinese meridian and chakra systems and can be seen as a bridge between Western and Eastern theories.

Muscle Monitoring

What makes energy kinesiology different from other types of holistic health care is its use of muscle monitoring. Muscle monitoring is a biofeedback mechanism that lets the client’s body tell the practitioner where stress occurs, what caused the stress, and what type of correction is needed for the body to move into balance.

Most imbalances in the body—physical pain, illness, depression, anxiety or learning problems—are caused by stress. Stress can be defined as a decrease in normal functioning in a muscle or an organ, or in a behavior or state of being. If normal function is disrupted for a long period of time, physical and emotional disease will manifest.

In order to muscle-monitor the client, the practitioner puts one of the client’s arm or leg muscles into its contracted state. We are not measuring the strength of this muscle through the motor cortex, but monitoring the communication between the muscle and the brain through the proprioceptors. Therefore, this muscle becomes an “indicator muscle,” or a communication tool. For this reason, the practitioner applies very light pressure to check for a change in the muscle’s ability to stay locked while the client thinks of an issue or moves the stressed area of the body.

During the session, the practitioner notices changes in the indicator muscle while listening to the client, touching points on the body, or bringing in other information. The session is usually in two parts. The first involves getting as much information as possible relating to the issue: what causes the pain to increase or decrease, when it started, any emotion present. In the second part, the practitioner identifies (through muscle monitoring) and applies techniques such as holding acupressure points, using tuning forks, or sending energy to an area.

Muscle monitoring takes out the guesswork. The body tells the practitioner (and client) what the cause of a problem is, and what is needed to bring balance to the body and energy system. Practitioners do not diagnose or prescribe, but instead act as facilitators in identifying what is needed to reduce stress. This supports the body in doing what it already knows how to do: heal.

Energy Kinesiology in Action

“I was about two years into my massage business when I decided to use muscle monitoring in my practice,” says massage therapist Michael King, of Murray, Utah. “I had a women in her 50s who came often for massage relief. She was very active and rode horses every week, so we focused on relaxing her muscle tension.

“I remember one session in particular: She told me that for several years she had difficulty rolling over from her stomach onto her back and that it would take a few minutes every morning to be able to get out of bed,” King continued. “I was somewhat surprised with this information, because she had received massage therapy on a regular basis for several years, so I was left wondering how I could rectify this issue.

“I watched her demonstrate the issue and I then thought to muscle-monitor her psoas. We worked on the psoas and a lymphatic reflex showed. As I massaged the reflex area, she expressed how tender the area felt. During her next massage session, we checked the psoas. Sure enough, it showed [up as] under-facilitated [the psoas wouldn’t stay locked in the contracted state against two pounds of pressure for two seconds] again. We did the simple lymphatic-reflex correction, and the muscle’s function returned when I re-monitored.

“The following week she came into my office ecstatic. She got down on the floor and rolled over with ease and experienced no discomfort,” King said. “She got up off the floor, hugged me and just beamed. I realize in retrospect that one client’s results shifted my direction in my practice. I now use muscle monitoring with all my clients.”

Communication Tools

Energy kinesiology has grown and developed into a multi-dimensional health-care system; however, the many modalities of energy kinesiology have something in common: They all focus on educating clients to take better care of themselves.

Some modalities address learning. These include educational kinesiology, also known as Brain Gym, which was developed by chiropractor Paul Dennison, Ph.D. Brain Gym is a program of physical movements that enhance learning and performance in all areas.

The system includes 26 targeted activities that integrate body and mind to bring about rapid and often dramatic improvements in concentration, memory, reading, writing, organizing, listening and physical coordination. These activities have been used to improve sports performance, increase productivity in the workplace, and improve test scores at all levels from elementary to post-graduate.

Another modality that works with learning difficulties was developed by Charles Krebs, Ph.D., author of A Revolutionary Way of Thinking and Nutrition for the Brain. His Learning Enhancement Acupressure Program (LEAP) works with brain integration, various coping mechanisms used in the learning environment and in life, as well as the ability to maintain integration under varying levels of stress.

Krebs has conducted credible research showing a positive change in brain function after this work is done. Learning continues throughout life; therefore, brain integration is an important aspect of being able to function at all stages of life.

Most modalities of energy kinesiology include an emotional component. Phillip Rafferty’s Kinergetics not only identifies an emotion with a particular issue but also identifies the ages that the emotion was present so that the stress of that emotion is cleared in the past and the present. Clearing stress is accomplished by sending energy into the chakras and holding points on the meridians.

Three in One Concepts, also known as the One Brain system, was developed by Gordon Stokes and Daniel Whiteside. Its purpose is to help clients integrate body, mind and spirit so they can create the kind of life they really want to live. Precision muscle monitoring is used to help clear blockages from the past in order to enable clients to change their perceptions in any area, including stress, performance, health, learning and dyslexia, in order to make better choices for themselves.

Another system of energy kinesiology is Applied Physiology, started by Richard Utt. Applied Physiology looks at the body through the holographic theory. This allows the practitioner to gain information not just about a specific meridian, but how a meridian relates to each of the other meridians. Applied kinesiology sees the body as a whole system working together and explores how one stressed area can affect the rest of the body.

All together there are hundreds of systems that use muscles as communication tools. The systems can be interwoven with each other as well as with other systems of health care and used in an integrated way.

Energy kinesiology can be a wonderful technique for the massage therapist, whether it is used to assess muscle function before massaging or to assist clients in understanding the deeper mind/body causes of tension.

Marge Bowen is a licensed massage therapist and an energy kinesiologist. Ann McFerron is an energy kinesiologist. They wrote this article on behalf of the Energy Kinesiology Association.