What is muscle testing (also known as applied kinesiology)?

Muscle testing (also known as “applied kinesiology”) is now being used within many alternative medicine fields to diagnose and determine a course of treatment.  It is believed that these techniques can provide feedback on the functional status of the body, as well as provide insights into mental and emotional states.


Why use muscle testing techniques?

Often our conscious, analytical mind is swayed by previous beliefs or wishful thinking.  Due to this “bias,” our body is believed to provide a more objective assessment than our mind.  Our body can also provide information about issues that are beyond our conscious awareness (i.e., in our subconscious or unconscious mind).


How does muscle testing work?

The essential premise of muscle testing is this:  Our physical body is an elaborate electrical system made up of electrical circuitry (e.g., nerves, neurons). That system is controlled by the brain.

Muscle testing is using muscles to determine whether or not that electrical system is in balance. If the system is balanced, then the muscle will test strong.  And if the electrical system is not balanced, then the muscle will test weak. 

Why would a muscle be electrically imbalanced?  There are many possible causes. Just a few of these include:

  • Exposure to something that is toxic the body (e.g., food, chemical)
  • Joints (e.g., spine, neck, knee) that are out of alignment and putting stress on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons
  • Physical illness or disease that is putting stress on a specific areas of the body (e.g., organs, body systems)
  • Negative thoughts (e.g., “I can’t win,” “I’ll never be able to do that,” “I will always be sick”)
  • Negative emotional states (e.g., fear, anger)
  • And many other reasons


Typical uses

Muscle testing is now being used in conjunction with conventional diagnostic methods by naturopaths, medical doctors, dentists, nutritionists, physical therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, nurse practitioners, mental health professionals, energy healers, and psychics. 

Looking at just a few of these in more depth:

  • Chiropractors: Many chiropractors have been incorporating these techniques successfully for many years.  As of 2012, 40% of chiropractors reported using muscle testing.  By testing muscles to see if they are weak or strong, the chiropractor can determine which parts of the body need adjustments.  After the adjustment has been made, then muscle testing can be used to re-check to make sure the adjustment was successful.
  • Healers: Different people respond differently to certain energetic healing techniques/modalities and/or crystals.  Before conducting a healing session, the healer can, for example, use muscle testing to determine which crystals strengthen and which weaken a client’s body.
  • Psychics: Muscle testing can also be used to bypass the logical mind/ego and gain access to the higher self, guides, or Spirit/God/Source.  When used in this way, the psychic can hold a statement in his or her mind and then use muscle testing to determine the truth (= strength) or falsehood (= weakness) of the statement.
  • Nutritionists: Muscle testing can be used in “nutritional testing” to measure whether a substance (e.g., food, supplement) will be beneficial or harmful to the person.  When used for this purpose, it is believed that muscle testing is more accurate when the substance in question is placed in direct contact with the person’s body (e.g., the supplement in held against the stomach, cheek, or in the hand) while the test is conducted. (NOTE: Due to the possibility of a severe allergic reaction to foods or supplements, please find a certified nutritionist to do the muscle testing. Testing food or substances is complicated, and accurately testing yourself is often difficult.)


Directions for using muscle testing

There are MANY different muscle testing techniques in use today. I encourage you to do some research online to learn more. There are many YouTube videos that provide visual demonstrations, and these can be very helpful.

Muscle testing can be done with a partner (i.e., 2 people) or when alone. I will be providing you with directions for a few common techniques when working with partner or when by yourself. However, please keep in mind that these are just a sample of the possibilities.

At the end of this post, I also include some helpful tips for effectively using muscle testing.


Directions for using muscle testing with a partner

One of the more common approaches when working with a partner involves testing the strength of one person’s arm.  The basics of this technique are:

  • One person stretches out his or her arm either:
    • In front of the body at a 90 degree angle
    • To the side of the body at a 90 degree angle
  • Either the person being tested or the tester can ask the question aloud or think of the question or issue silently.
  • The tester then tells the person to “Resist” and then gently applies pressure to the wrist of the arm.
  • The person holding the arm shouldn’t “lock” the arm in place. He or she should simply hold the arm as steady as possible while the pressure is applied.
  • The person applying the pressure doesn’t need to press hard. He or she only needs to apply gentle but firm pressure on the wrist in order to receive accurate results.
  • After practicing with this person for a while, the person’s responses will become clear:
    • A strong response = the person can easily hold the arm in place.
    • A weak response = the person will be unable to hold the arm in place and the arm will drop or move.

NOTE: With some people, the movement is only slight. With others, the difference between a strong and weak response can be pretty dramatic. All that’s important is that you can differentiate between a strong and weak response. The amount of movement isn’t important.


Directions for using muscle testing alone

One of the more common techniques when using muscle testing without a partner is to use your fingers:

  • Create a ring with two fingers of one hand (e.g., thumb and baby finger).
  • Ask your question or think about the issue.
  • Discerning the strength or weakness of the “ring” is done by gently prying the ring apart with two finger(s) of the other hand.

There are many alternative methods when doing testing on yourself. Basically, any easily accessible muscle can be used. For example, you can use your thigh:

  • When sitting down, lift your knee a few inches toward your chest.
  • Ask your question or think about the issue.
  • Gently press downward on your knee.


The importance of practice

When first learning how to use muscle test, you need to practice, practice, practice!  It takes practice to discern the difference between strong and weak responses. 

In the beginning, don’t try anything elaborate.  Test statements that you know to be true (e.g., “I am a woman” – or vice versa). Then test statements that you know to be false (e.g., “I am a man” – or vice versa).  Or you can ask about the truth or falsehood of your current address, current spouse, name of your current pet, etc.

Once you are sure you can tell the difference between a strong and weak response, then you can then move on to other questions, issues, concerns, etc.


Tips when using muscle testing

Although muscle testing just takes a few minutes to learn, it’s not as easy as it appears if you want to receive accurate information.

Here are just a few tips that can mean the difference between receiving accurate and inaccurate answers:

  • Practice: As stated above, it is very important to take the time needed to practice.  This will improve the accuracy of your answers when using any muscle testing method.  Keep in mind that each person has their own unique response patterns, so you need to practice first whenever you start working with someone new. Practice is essential in order to:
    • Learn how to discern between a strong versus weak response.
    • Determine how much pressure to apply.
    • Experiment with which muscle testing techniques works best.
  • Testing Ourselves and Others: What I have found is that most people can test themselves, but some people cannot.  Similarly, most people can test others, but some cannot. Only by practicing will you determine which is true for you.
  • Hydration: Because muscle testing relies on the electrical system of the body and the electrical system of the body relies on being properly hydrated, it is important for the person who is being tested to be hydrated.  I recommend that the person being tested drink a glass of water before testing begins.
  • Wording: The question that is asked or the statement that is made needs to be very clear.  If you ask sloppy, unfocused, or multi-part questions, then you will receive answers that are confusing.  If you receive answers that aren’t making sense, try wording the question or statement differently. Simple questions are best!
  • A Trick – Ask Silently: When working with a partner, both the tester and the person being tested needs to have a neutral position on the topic being tested.  This is because our conscious minds can override muscle testing. If either party can’t be objective, then the one who can be neutral can be the one to ask the question, but do so silently. For example, when someone is using muscle testing with me, I will ask him/her to not speak the question or statement aloud because I already know that my conscious mind will often override the answer and provide a false positive or false negative response. If done silently, muscle testing is very accurate with me. If the questions are asked aloud, then I will interfere if I have an opinion on the topic.
  • Clear Your Mind: Again, this only applies when working with a partner and someone has a strong feeling about the topic. Because the body will respond whether the issue is spoken aloud or simply held in the person’s mind, it is also important for the person with the strong opinion to NOT focus on the issue being asked about.  I recommend having a “blank” mind, which can be achieved by simply repeating the word “blank” over and over again while the testing is done.
  • Neutrality: If you are trying to test yourself and you cannot be neutral about the subject, I strongly recommend that you find a friend or professional who is proficient at muscle testing.  Let him/her test you so you can be provided with accurate answers.




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By Anne Reith, Ph.D.