A Brief History of Kinesiology

Kinesiology literally means the study of movement, and has an interesting history. In its original form, it was an academic discipline studying the movement of the body, and how the body moves. Several academic Kinesiologists then focused on how the muscles causing movement could be assessed for their integrity of function using manual techniques. The following timeline offers a brief history of Kinesiology, bringing us to the most evolved modality practised today: Energetic Kinesiology.

Early 1900s: Boston orthopaedic surgeon, R.W. Lovett first developed the science of manual muscle testing. He used his muscle testing to analyse disabilities resulting from polio and nerve damage. He applied muscle testing to trace spinal nerve damage because muscles that tested “weak” often had a common spinal nerve.

1920s: American osteopaths, Frank Chapman, DC, and Charles Owen, proposed that many symptoms of diseases had their origins in sluggish lymph flow. Chapman worked out that there were many points on the bodies of individuals who were showing various symptoms of disease, which, when palpated or massaged, would be tender. Chapman discovered that with continuous massage, these tender points or areas would become less tender, with tenderness often disappearing. When next assessed, the tenderness was absent and this was associated with improvement in the disease condition.

1930s: American chiropractor, Terence Bennett, DO, came up with his own model for restoring health based on proper blood flow. Like Chapman, Bennett had worked out his own set of reflex points. He called these ‘Neurovascular Reflexes’ and his body of work ‘Neurovascular Dynamics’.

1932: Lovett first published ‘Physical therapy in infantile paralysis’.

1937: Chapman and Owen postulated the existence of a new heretofore unrecognised reflex they called the ‘Neurolymphatic Reflexes’ and their findings were published.

1949: Henry & Florence Kendall modified and systemised Lovett’s ideas, published their pioneering book, ‘Muscles: Testing and Function’. Muscle testing became a new science in the field of Academic Kinesiology, the in-depth analysis of the exact motion of muscles and the way they move joints.

1960s: Detroit-based chiropractor, George Goodheart took an interest in the work of Kendall and Kendall. As Goodheart began to increasingly use muscle testing in his practice, he found some clients had specific muscles that would test weak, were hypotonic, when certain types of disease conditions were present. An eclectic reader, Goodheart was interested in all sorts of different areas of knowledge and by synthesising his discoveries, Goodheart pioneered a system that brought together work done by his predecessors: Chapman’s Points (for lymphatic function); Bennett’s Points (for vascular function); his own origin/insertion technique (for muscular problems); cranial bone manipulation after William Sutherland, DO.

1972:  Goodheart wrote the “vertebral challenge”, based upon the work of upper cervical specialist, Leon Lewis Truscott, DC, PhD; and his work on the muscle-acupuncture meridian-organ relationship using muscle testing feedback for both diagnosis and therapeutic efficacy. Interest in Applied Kinesiology expanded from George Goodheart’s lectures and Applied Kinesiology study groups being led by his best students formed throughout the US.

This marked the beginnings of the new science of Applied Kinesiology.

Initially there were six of Goodheart’s protégées who would gather at his practice, and over time then set up study groups. There was a gathering of these study group leaders who became known as the Dirty Dozen.

1975: From 1975 onwards, one of George Goodheart’s most brilliant protégés, Dr Alan Beardall, through extensive anatomical study, clinical observation and testing procedures, identified these functional divisions within muscles. Beardall developed specific muscle tests for each division and also isolated reflex points which differentiated these muscle divisions as unique functional units. He discovered over 250 specific muscle tests isolating divisions of the major muscles of the body.

1979: Chiropractor, John Thie, one of the “Dirty Dozen”, took the basic techniques that had been worked out in Applied Kinesiology and developed a new system that he called ‘Touch for Health’.

1980: From 1980, Alan Beardall published 5 Volumes of muscle testing instructional books – Clinical Kinesiology Vol 1-5.

New kinesiology modality called Clinical Kinesiology established.

Alan Beardall established the concept of the body as a “Biocomputer”.  This concept determined that the subconscious appears to process data in a binary way, indeed neurons running the muscles can only fire or not fire – lock or unlock. A lock in a muscle test thus indicates “yes, I am in balance” – there is not enough stress to impede my function, while an unlock response indicates “no, I am unbalanced” – there is too much stress for me to work properly.

More importantly, this simple “yes” or “no” response of the muscle is the summation of all the factors influencing the brain and central nervous system, from the level of your structural alignment to your nutritional and emotional status. In addition, the subconscious readout of muscle function is the interface with the other energy systems of the body, including the meridian systems. As such, these “yes” or “no” responses can also indicate states of energetic balance.

Energetic Kinesiology established.

While in Academic Kinesiology, you are indeed testing a muscle for strength, in the more recently developed kinesiology systems, the muscle response is used primarily as a form of biofeedback. Hence, in these systems you are “monitoring”, not “testing” muscle function. The redefinition of the term “muscle testing” to “muscle monitoring” is to denote that we are now accessing only the integrity of the muscle response, and not its strength.

Mid 1980s: An expert in electronic aircraft guidance systems, Richard Utt, added to the growing number of kinesiology systems by developing Applied Physiology. The concept of a muscle circuit that included monitoring in both contraction and extension was first developed in Applied Physiology as Richard Utt recognised that there are really seven states of muscle response that can be evaluated by muscle monitoring not just “locked” and “unlocked”. This was a profound addition to the field of Energetic Kinesiology. To ensure a muscle is truly in homeostasis, a Kinesiologist needs to resolve the “over-facilitated’ muscles states, not just the “under-facilitated” states shown by an unlocking muscle. Richard Utt’s recognition of the significance of resolving these ‘hidden’ compensations via muscle balancing techniques was a significant development and led to longer lasting results for clients.

Late 1980s: American scientist, Charles Krebs developed LEAP (Learning Enhancement Acupressure Program) following his recovery from a would-be fatal diving accident in 1982. A kinesiology practitioner since 1984, Krebs has done extensive research into the brain and nervous system, kinesiology techniques and energetic sciences. His scientific research and success as a kinesiology practitioner has seen him advance kinesiology and cement it as one of the worlds most powerful healing therapies.

Applied Physiology developed by Richard Utt and LEAP developed by Charles Krebs were instrumental in moving the field of Energetic Kinesiology from a wellness modality to a serious healthcare profession. In the 1990s Energetic Kinesiology continued to evolve with an increased emphasis on resolving physiological issues long term.

From these beginnings, kinesiology has blossomed to become a diversity of different types of kinesiology-based treatments. These new systems were developed by people who saw the incredible potential of the techniques because generally, they were not locked within the rigid Western medical and physiological models.

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