What is Muscle Testing, How to Use It, and Tips to Increase Accuracy

by Anne Reith, Ph.D.
Woman having someone press on her arms to test muscle reaction
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Woman having someone press on her arms to test muscle reaction
Muscle Testing Technique

What is muscle testing?

Muscle testing is a technique in which a practitioner applies gentle pressure to one muscle or to a group of muscles in order to determine if it stays strong or goes weak.

The meaning of a strong versus weak muscle response will depend on the reason muscle testing is being used. But in general, when a muscle is strong, it indicates that something is true or good for you. If a muscle becomes weak, then this means it’s false or not good for you.

NOTE: Muscle testing is also known as applied kinesiology.

Why use muscle testing techniques?

In simple terms, muscle testing is a way to uncover “the truth.” It does this by bypassing our conscious mind and accesses our unconscious.

Why is this important? Our conscious, analytical mind can be easily swayed by beliefs that we hold.

For example, when meeting new clients, I might verbally ask if they believe that they can be healed. The client’s conscious mind may reply “Sure,” partly because that’s what they want to believe is possible. However, I can check the accuracy of this response by using muscle testing. It may reveal an unconscious belief that they will never be healthy.

As you can see in the example above, rather than asking the conscious mind a question, muscle testing allows us to use the body to access our unconscious mind. This pathway is believed to provide a more objective assessment of a situation by tapping into information that is beyond our conscious awareness.

How does muscle testing work?

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

Muscle testing involves 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:

  • Negative beliefs (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)
  • Physical illness or disease that is putting stress on a specific area of the body (e.g., organs, body systems)
  • Exposure to something that is toxic to 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

Typical uses of muscle testing

Muscle testing is now being used within many fields to diagnose, determine a course of treatment, and uncover unconscious beliefs. Just some of the professions using this technique include medical doctors, naturopaths, nurse practitioners, dentists, nutritionists, physical therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, mental health professionals, energy healers, and even psychics. 

Looking at just a few of these professions in more depth:

  • Traditional Doctors, Natruropaths, Dentists, & Other Health Care Providers: Muscle testing is believed to provide feedback regarding the function of various parts of the body (e.g., muscles, bone structures, organs, glands, nervous system, circulation). It can also be used to determine if a course of treatment would be beneficial or detrimental.
  • Chiropractors: Chiropractors were among the first to recognize the benefits of muscle testing.  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 to be treated.  Muscle testing can also be used to re-check to make sure the treatment was successful.
  • Nutritionists: Muscle testing can be used to determine if a substance (e.g., food, supplement, chemical) 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 is held against the stomach, cheek, or in the hand) while the test is conducted.
    • IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the possibility of a severe allergic reaction to foods, supplements, or a chemical, please find a certified nutritionist to do the muscle testing. This type of testing is complicated, and accurately testing yourself is often difficult.)
  • Healers, Acupuncturists, Massage Therapists, & Other Body Workers: Muscle testing can be used to determine what type of treatment would be be most beneficial for a client. For example, before conducting a session, the healer can use muscle testing to determine which crystals strengthen and which weaken a client’s body.
  • Mental Health Professionals: Bypassing the conscious mind allows mental health professionals access to unconscious beliefs that may be causing emotional or mental health problems. It can also provide feedback about which form of therapy might be most effective (e.g., Behavioral Therapy versus Cognitive Therapy).
  • Psychics: It is believed that muscle testing can be used to bypass the logical mind/ego and gain access to the higher self, guides, and 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.

What is covered in the rest of this post

In the coming sections, I have provided you with direction for some of the more common muscle testing techniques. This includes:

  • Muscle testing techniques when alone
  • Muscle testing techniques when with a partner
  • Muscle testing using a surrogate
  • Tips for increasing accuracy

Keep in mind that the techniques covered below are just a sample of the possibilities. There are MANY different muscle testing techniques in use today. Your job is to find the technique(s) that provides consistently accurate answers.

NOTE: YouTube videos can provide useful visual demonstrations.

Testing to make sure you are ready to start

Always begin by checking to make sure you are ready and able to do muscle testing. You can do this by making statements that you know to be true and know to be false.

For example,

  • I always start every muscle testing session by first stating, “I am a woman in this lifetime.” The muscle testing response should be true because I identify as a woman in this lifetime.
  • Then I test the statement, “I am a man in this lifetime.” This should test false.

Before I begin a muscle testing session, I will usually ask at least 2 of these types of factual questions. I begin with the question about my gender in this lifetime. Other statements you can make could include topics such as:

  • Your name in this lifetime
  • Your current pet’s name
  • Your current address
  • The first name of your current spouse, significant other, or sibling in this lifetime

If you don’t get correct responses to several basic “testing” questions, then you should not proceed with muscle testing without determining the reasons for the incorrect responses. For example, it might be that you aren’t hydrated or that you are “switched.”

NOTE: See the important information provided in the last section of this post. It covers many issues that can interfere with receiving consistently accurate answers.

The importance of practice

Once you have determined that you are ready and able to do muscle testing, you may need to practice. Situations that warrant practice include the following:

  • When first learning how to do muscle testing
  • When trying a new/different muscle testing technique
  • When doing muscle testing with someone else and this is your first time working with them

Practice is essential to the accuracy of your answers when using any muscle testing method.  It will help you:

  • Learn how to discern between a strong versus a weak response
  • Determine how much pressure to apply
  • Experiment with which muscle testing techniques work best

Once you are sure you can tell the difference between a strong and a weak response, then you can begin. But take your time. Practice increases accuracy, which is your goal!

NOTE: With some people, the difference between a strong and weak response is only slight. With others, the difference can be pretty dramatic. Although sometimes the amount of movement can indicate the strength of a response (e.g., a definite yes versus a lukewarm yes), the most important thing is that you can differentiate between a strong and a weak response.

DIRECTIONS – Muscle testing alone

Here is one of the most common techniques when doing muscle testing on yourself:

  • Create a “ring” with the tips of two fingers of one hand. You will need to experiment to find which of the following fingers provide the most accurate and consistent answers:
    • Thumb and forefinger
    • Thumb and middle finger
    • Thumb and baby finger (many people report this to be the “best” approach)
    • NOTE: Rarely are the thumb and ring finger used, but if none of the options above are working, then there’s no harm in trying.
  • Ask your question or think about the issue.
  • Place your thumb and forefinger of the opposite hand inside the “ring” that you have created.
  • Gently pry the “ring” apart with two finger(s).
  • After practicing with this technique for a while (which includes finding the correct fingers to use when creating your “ring”), your responses will become clear:
    • A strong response = The 2 fingers creating the “ring” will stay together
    • A weak response = The 2 fingers creating the “ring” will easily pull apart

ALTERNATIVE TECHNIQUES – Muscle testing alone

There are many alternative methods when doing testing on yourself. Basically, any easily accessible muscle can be used.

  • When sitting down or lying on your back, lift your knee toward your chest. Gently press on the knee or thigh.
  • Gently press your forefinger on the thumbnail of the same hand to create a sliding motion across the nail.
  • Gently press your thumb on the middle section of your forefinger to create a sliding motion across the forefinger.
  • Place an object in front of you on a table (e.g., a book or small stack of books works well). Use almost any approach to lifting the object. With this technique, the object will feel heavier with a weak response and will be easier to lift with a strong response.
  • Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. When you ask your question or make your statement, you will find that your body will sway in one direction to indicate “yes”/strength and the opposite direction to indicate “no”/weakness. The swaying motion is almost always either (a) right or left or (b) forward or backward. (NOTE: I refer to this technique as being a human pendulum.)

DIRECTIONS – Muscle testing with a partner

One of the more common approaches when working with a partner involves testing the strength of the person’s arm.  Here are directions for this technique:

  • One person stretches out their arm. There are 2 typical ways this is done:
    • The arm is extended in front of the body at a 90⁰ angle
    • The arm is extended to the side of the body at a 90⁰ angle
  • The tester usually places 2 fingers on the wrist of the person being tested.
  • Either the person being tested or the tester can either (a) ask the question aloud or (b) think of the question or issue silently. (NOTE: See last section of this Blog post for an explanation about asking questions silently.)
  • The tester then tells the person to “Resist” and gently applies pressure to the wrist of the arm.
    • The person holding the arm shouldn’t “lock” the arm in place. The person 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 will be able to easily hold the arm in place
    • A weak response = The person will not be able to hold the arm in place (i.e., the arm will drop or move)

ALTERNATIVE TECHNIQUES – Muscle testing with a partner

As with solo techniques, there are many different ways to do muscle testing with a partner. Here are just a few examples:

  • Standing with the arm held straight down beside the body. The hand is positioned beside the hip with the palm facing outward (i.e., the wrist is against the hip). The tester puts 2 fingers on the inside of the person’s wrist (i.e., between the hip and the wrist). The test involves gentle applying pressure to wrist in an outward direction.
  • Standing while holding onto something secure. Bend the leg at a 90⁰ angle to the body. The tester puts 2 fingers on the ankle and gentle presses downward.
  • Lying face down. Bend the knee at a 90⁰ angle. The tester places 2 fingers on the ankle and presses downward (in the direction of the feet).
  • Lying face up. One arm is extended upward at a 90⁰ angle to the body. The tester places 2 fingers on the wrist and presses downward (in the direction of the feet).
  • Lying face up. Both arms are extended at a 90⁰ angle to the body. The arms are crossed at the wrists with the wrists facing downward (in the direction of the feet). The tester places one wrist against the crossed wrists, with their wrist also facing downward toward the feet. The tester presses their wrist against the person’s crossed wrists in a downward direction (in the direction of the feet). (NOTE: See picture at the top of this Blog post.)

Surrogate method of muscle testing

There are times when it is difficult or impossible to do muscle testing with someone. For example, the person could be very ill, injured, or unconscious. Also, animals can’t be muscle tested directly.

In these situations, you can use a surrogate:

  • Have the surrogate place their hand on the person/animal.
  • Then, you can test the partner using one of the partner techniques described above.

Tips for increasing accuracy of muscle testing

Although muscle testing just takes a few minutes to learn, it’s not as easy as it appears. This technique is only helpful if you are able to receive consistently accurate information.

As explained above, (a) practice is critical and (b) you should always check to make sure you are ready and able to do muscle testing. But here are some additional tips and techniques that can mean the difference between receiving accurate and inaccurate answers:

  • Eyes: Whether testing yourself or someone else, the person being tested should have their eyes open and looking straight ahead.
  • Breath: Whether testing yourself or someone else, the person should NOT hold their breath. They should breathe normally and consistently.
  • 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.  Before testing begins, I recommend that the person being tested drink a glass of water (about 8 ounces).
  • Being Energetically “Switched”: It is believed that the electrical system within our body can become “switched.” When this happens, it’s likely you will get inconsistent or weak responses. If this happens, begin by drinking a glass of water. Then, here are 2 techniques for “un-switching”:
    • Hold Psych-K position for 2 minutes with eyes closed and breathing normally. The Psych-K position consists of (a) crossing your legs at the ankles, (b) crossing your arms at the wrists, (c) grasping your hands so fingers intertwined with the thumbs facing down, (d) rotating your hands inward toward your chest until the ring fingers are facing your chest, and (e) resting 1 ring finger against your chest. (NOTE: Although written directions make this position sound complicated, it’s actually very easy. You can find demonstrations of the Psych-K position on YouTube.)
    • Place one hand with all 5 fingers extended around your belly button. Gently but firmly rotate the fingers around the belly button in a back and forth motion (i.e., the motion of a washing machine). While continuing this rotating motion with one hand, take the other hand and complete the next 3 steps in the following order: (a) Rub 1” below both collar bones for about 2 seconds, (b) rub the lower lip back and forth for about 2 seconds, and (c) rub the upper lip back and forth for about 2 seconds.
  • 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 do this. Only by practicing will you determine which is true for you.
  • Neutrality: If you cannot be neutral and detached about the subject being tested, then it’s unlikely you will get accurate results. For example, 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 test you. But even when working with a partner, your strong feelings about a subject can override muscle testing. If that is the case, then here are 2 tricks that may help:
    • Trick #1 – Clear Your Mind: If the person being tested has a strong opinion, it is important to NOT focus on the issue being asked about.  I recommend having a “blank” mind. This can be achieved by simply repeating the word “blank” over and over again while the testing is done.
    • Trick #2 – Ask Questions Silently: The tester does not have to state the question aloud. They can simply ask the question or make a statement silently and then telling the person to “Resist.” For example, when someone is using muscle testing with me, I always direct the tester to NOT speak the question or statement aloud. 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.
  • Wording Your Questions: The question that is asked or the statement that is made needs to be very clear.  If you receive answers that aren’t making sense or are inconsistent, go back to the question or statement. Try wording the question or statement differently. Good questions should meet the following criteria:
    • Short and simple is always best
    • No double-negatives
    • No multi-part questions
    • Questions are taken literally by the body/unconscious mind, so look carefully at the wording to make sure every word means what is intended
  • Checking Your Answer: After receiving an answer, I always recommend that you cross-check to make sure it’s accurate. Do this by re-stating the question in a different way. An easy way to do this is to ask, “So, is it accurate to say that (fill in the answer you received).” If the answer is true, then the results will be consistent. If you get inconsistent results, then seek to determine if there is a reason for this. Some of the tips provided above may prove helpful (e.g., adequate hydration, how the question was worded).
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