muscle testing
by Dr. Wally Schmitt

The Power of Muscle Testing
in Functional Neurological Assessment

This post has been derived from a transcript of a portion of the QA Course.

If you’d prefer to watch the video, check it out below.

Applied Kinesiology (AK) has been a cornerstone in unraveling the complexities of the human body's functionality. At the heart of this approach lies the concept of muscle testing, a remarkable tool that serves as a window into the body's intricate neurological processes. 

In this post, we share a portion of the QA course, where the late Dr. Wally Schmitt delves into the profound implications of using muscle testing as a tool for functional neurological evaluation, shedding light on its role in uncovering imbalances and restoring wellbeing. 

If you're intrigued by the intricacies of the human body and its hidden language of responses, read on to discover the essence of muscle testing within the realm of applied kinesiology.

The Significance of Muscle Testing

Every session I've taught of anything, at some point or another, I talk about using muscle testing as a tool for functional neurological evaluation. This is no exception. 

We're going to talk about it each session, some of the same material, sometimes said in the same way, but a lot of little things said in different ways to try to give an idea of how to use muscle testing and to put it in the context of what we're trying to look at when we look at the human body using muscle testing as a tool for evaluation. And we're really looking at it as a tool for neurological and sometimes neurochemical evaluation. 

And so in that context, we consider muscle testing a part of functional neurology. Muscle testing equals functional neurology. And it's a tool for functional neurology as opposed to pathological neurology. 

Now, the reference paper on which this whole concept is based, is a paper written by Sam Yanuck and myself, which is called Expanding the Neurological Examination Using Functional Neurological Assessment Part Two, Neurologic Basis of Applied Kinesiology. It was published in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 1999.

The True Definition of Applied Kinesiology

There was a part one that Sam wrote with Tom Motika, which was more of a review of literature. But we actually took the concepts of using muscle testing as an extension of the neurological exam, and applied kinesiology challenges as an extension of neurological examination procedures and wrote a paper on that. It's a pretty extensive paper. (Available at ICAK's website.

Applied kinesiology is a system that evaluates our structural, chemical and mental aspects. It employs muscle testing with other standard methods of diagnosis: nutrition, manipulation, diet, acupressure, and exercise, and are used therapeutically to help restore balance and maintain wellbeing throughout life. 

Now, that's the definition of applied kinesiology. Let's just pick that apart a little bit. 

Nutrition. Nutrition affects body chemistry, and body chemistry affects neurotransmitter production and neurotransmitter production affects the ability of nerves to carry messages. In addition, nutrition is tasted. Taste bud receptors are activated. 

We eat nutrition, we get a neurological effect of the taste buds. Even while we have the patient tasting it, even lying on the table, or when they eat a food and they taste it we're supposed to chew, we activate neurological pathways from nutrition.

The Different Neurologically Based Therapies


Manipulation stimulates muscles and joints and sends feedback into the nervous system to try to restore normal function. Obviously, it has impact neurologically. 

Diet and nutrition

We talked about diet. We're supposed to taste our substances, and we can get clues from muscle testing what things we need to eat differently. As far as macronutrients, diet and micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and that type of thing. 


Because it's acupressure is obviously affecting different acupuncture points. And we tap different acupuncture points, not this one, but some of the acupuncture points and the different acupuncture points that's causing a neurological stimulus. It's a mechanical receptor stimulus. 

Exercise is setting up mechanical receptor activity and education is actually the basis for giving the patient a proper lifestyle.

But with the exception of education, which is also affecting the patient's left brain to a degree, all these things are neurologically based therapies. They're all going to impact neurological function to a certain degree. 

So that definition of applied kinesiology, we can look at the neurological basis for applied kinesiology, and it's the same as for chiropractic. Not everybody here is a chiropractor, but the neurological basis for AK and the neurological basis for chiropractic really could be used interchangeably.

Wally's Preferred Definition of 'Chiropractic'

So this is the definition of chiropractic by Dorland's medical dictionary 28th edition. (And the 30th edition, which is out now, it changed it and it's not as good. They watered it down some.) 

Here it is: "chiropractic is a science of applied neurophysiologic diagnosis based on the theory that health and disease of life processes related to the function of the nervous system. Irritation of the nervous system by mechanical, chemical or psychic factors is the cause of disease. Restoration and maintenance of health depend on normal function of the nervous system. Diagnosis is the identification of these noxious irritants and treatment is the removal by the most conservative method." 

I like that definition. And what we want to do then is take that definition and diagnose the process that's wrong with the patient. It said, life processes. Let me go back. It said, health and disease are life processes related to the function of the nervous system and interference with nervous system function by mechanical, chemical or psychic factors. 

This is a structural, chemical, mental triangle that applied kinesiology uses as a triad of health are factors or cause of disease. And we can identify noxious irritants. And noxious irritants...

“What is the life process that's gone awry?”

The body is aware of noxious irritants by what type of nerve endings? Nociceptors. 

Okay. And so we identify the noxious irritants, and treatment is removed by the most conservative method. Now we can also find noxious chemicals which are picked up by chemo receptors, taste buds, and olfactory receptors, and so on, which could be noxious as well that aren't picked up by the nociceptors as such. 

But typically noxious irritants in the body are nociceptors. So we want to diagnose the process. What is the life process that's gone awry? Not just the name. And if we look at certain processes, we have simple processes in the body, and they have many different ramifications. 

But simple processes include facilitation and inhibition. And facilitation inhibition gives us the basis for understanding in the relative to what we're talking about this weekend, where there are low back pain and pelvic problems. 

We could look at the imbalance between, in the patients who have symptoms, and balance between low back nociceptors and low back mechanical receptors, which by balancing those things, result in pain relief. So we're going to talk about fixing the low back, and we're going to talk about it relative to thinking in terms of processes, we're looking for patterns of facilitation inhibition.

Start Thinking in Terms of Processes

Inhibition arising from different joint disruptions. Facilitation inhibition arising from different injuries to muscles. Facilitation inhibition arising from different factors that affect individual muscles, which is going to be the next session we're going to talk about. We're going to back over all the muscles and talk about different clinical factors that are related to things we can do to help individual muscles that are not functioning properly to get them to facilitate if they're inhibited. 

And then in the autonomic nervous system, we have facilitation and inhibition in the sympathetic nervous system. And the sympathetic nervous system is either sympathetic or parasympathetic. I mean, in autonomics, it comes down to simply sympathetic or parasympathetic. And you could have facilitation of sympathetic or inhibition of sympathetic and facilitation of parasympathetic, or inhibition of parasympathetic. 

All these are possible, and as we get into the further sessions, we'll be talking about that. Even next time we'll be talking a little bit about facilitation inhibition and some of the autonomic effects, how our autonomic nervous system functions relative to gut dysfunction. But we still have simple processes, processes of facilitation inhibition, processes of sympathetic and parasympathetic. In the case of oxidation and reduction, every chemical reaction you can think of can be broken down into oxidation and reduction.

There are redox reactions. There's always an oxidative step and there's a reduction step. The reduction step could be called the antioxidant step. You have an oxidant and antioxidant, but the chemical step is reduction. And so these things are supposed to be in balance. 

However, sometimes there's a problem where there's too much oxidation because there's not enough antioxidant capacity, so you get over-oxidized. Or you could have not enough oxidation. You could have impaired oxidation because the processes that make oxidative phosphorylation to make ATP to make oxidative activity function, are not functioning. You can have impairments of oxidative phosphorylation, for example. And different tissues have to be oxidized or reduced to change their chemical format, as far as either activating them or inactivating them.

As far as synthesizing molecules, you have different processes of oxidation at one step and maybe reduction in another step to add pieces on the molecules. And then, as we said, certain things turn on in an oxidized state, certain things turn off in an oxidized state and turn on a reduced state. But still it's basic chemistry, simple processes you see. And so we're going to talk about vitamin E as well which is relative to that.

Virtually Every Muscle has Nutrients That It is Related To

We've already mentioned it. We're going to talk about vitamin E relative to low back muscles. And what we'll find out is that there are a whole bunch of low back muscles and muscles that attached to the pelvis that are vitamin E related muscles. 

Doctor Gartner found out early on that every muscle had, virtually every muscle, had one or more nutrients that it was related to. And he found that most of the pelvic muscles were related to the nutrient vitamin E. And so there are systemic patterns of nutrition, which we'll talk about later, but there's this nutrient pattern of low back muscles related to vitamin E. 

And what it suggests is a person who has a vitamin E deficiency will have low back muscle imbalance and will lead them, very likely, to a low back problem. So let's think about that for just a minute. Oxidation reduction, patients over oxidized because they don't have enough antioxidants. And the antioxidants they don't have enough of is vitamin E. 

Often there's a number of antioxidants they don't have enough of, but let's say they don't have enough vitamin E, then they're going to have weak muscles, then they are going to injure their back.

And because vitamin E is an antioxidant, they're going to get increased inflammatory response. So it's going to aggravate the mechanical problem by a chemical problem. And by knowing what Dr. Grant learned in the 1960s about vitamin D related to the low back muscles, we can right away know that one of the things we have to look at for sure is vitamin E when we got a low back problem, and test it on the patient and see if it's appropriate. 

So it fits with this idea of what we're talking about this weekend. So many low back patients have the low back problem because they have a vitamin E imbalance in their body. 

Oh, now what did I just say? I said a vitamin E imbalance. Before I said low vitamin E, all of a sudden I said vitamin E imbalance. And if you're listening (or reading!) closely, you said, before I was talking about low vitamin E, and all of a sudden that I said vitamin E imbalance, which is not the same thing, is it? What if a patient hasn't had a low vitamin E? What if they have the opposite? What would be the opposite of low vitamin E?

Too much. Too much vitamin E. What if they have too much vitamin E? Well, if they have too much vitamin E, guess what muscles will be most likely to be inhibited because of excessive toxicity of vitamin E. The vitamin E muscles that are low back muscles. 

We're going to get to this later, but relative to this concept right now, an imbalance too much or not enough of vitamin E can create a problem in the low back. And we have a lot of patients out there who are self-medicating with vitamin D and taking too much. And we'll talk about that a little later, too. It's very common, actually. 

So in the acupuncture system, we have Yang and Yin. And we talked last time about the acupuncture headpoints being the Yang points. And again, simple processes, Yang and Yin. In the endocrine system, we have only two problems. We can have too much of a hormone, or not enough of a hormone. 

That's basically all there is to it. Now it can get pretty complicated because you've got a bunch of different hormones, but you've got too much or not enough. And so if you have too much hormone, there's two reasons for it.

Too much or not enough? It's that simple.

One reason there's too much hormone is the body makes too much. 

What would be another reason for too much hormone? Not breaking it down fast enough. Right. Not breaking it down fast enough. So you could have too much for that reason. You can have not enough. You could have not enough because the body wasn't making enough, which is the most common reason. Or theoretically, you could have not enough because the body was breaking it down too fast, and that could happen on occasion as well, although it's rare. 

In the immune system, the same thing: you have too much or not enough immune system response. So in the immune system, you could have too much or not enough response, which could be interpreted as a person who had not enough immune response or lower immune response, would be a patient who was catching every infection that came along. 

Too much immune response would be a patient who had the immune system attacking when it shouldn't, a hypervigilent immune system, if you will. And in that case, that patient might have an immune system which is creating too much immune activity, creating inflammatory processes and/or allergic processes. Because it's taking a carrot, which the body should not reject but saying, 'carrot, that's not me'.

And it overreacts, it's hypervigilent, and you get an allergic reaction to the carrot because it overreacts to the carrot. So you can have an immune system which is under or over-functioning. Again, simple processes. 

And we can isolate and break down each of those processes in a standard protocol, that's what the protocol is all about. 

So we have this facilitation inhibitions, sympathetic, parasympathetic, oxidation reduction, Yang-Yin, endocrine, immune, and so on. There's simple processes and they can fit together in complicated ways. 

What we need is a roadmap to guide us through the different processes and try to figure out the most optimal way to get from one point to another. So say you go on map quest or one of the other mapping websites, and it asks you, do you want the quickest route? Do you want the most scenic route? What route do you want? 

Well, we want to probably get the most efficient and quickest route, but that's what the QA clinical protocol is, the most quick and efficient route to get to the results of the patient's health. 

And what we look at then is we consider what D.D Palmer said way back in 1910, he said, in 1910, he said, too much or not enough nerve energy is disease.

"Too much or not enough of anything, is disease.”

Now, pretty much every professional would tell you the body heals itself. Pretty much everybody would agree with that. How they approach that then is different. 

D.D Palmer said too much or not enough nerve energy is disease. And I would tell you that too much or not enough of anything is disease. 

Too much or not enough chemistry, like we talked about, is disease. 

Too much or not enough Yang and too much or not enough Yin is disease. 

Too much or not enough endocrine function. 

There's too much or not enough that D.D talked about is really a concept which is very useful in looking at the different processes that we deal with, and looking at how we have to identify the processes that are going wrong. 

I can throw a whole bunch of those processes at you, and you can try to stumble through them like we've been doing for 30 years. In my case, 30 years of practice, but we've organized them in a way that's the most efficient way to approach them. 

So what we're trying to do is we're trying to remove obstacles and give the body what it needs. If there's an obstacle, there may be too much of something, blocking like a dam and the water backs up behind it, or not enough, there may be a deficiency.

Use Muscle Testing to Help the Body Help Itself

So too often, we want to remove the obstacles. Not enough, we want to give the body what it needs structurally, chemically, or mentally, that triad of health. 

It could be structural, chemical, or mental, we have to address whether it's too much or not enough to allow the body to heal itself. And then, Sherrington in 1912 or so, or 1914, talked about facilitation and inhibition. This was several years after D.D Palmer wrote the book The Chiropractor's Adjuster in 1910, and said, too much or not enough nerve energy is disease. 

Sherrington came along and used the words facilitation and inhibition. They weren't used before that, or D.D Palmer probably would have used those terms. 

But in modern neurology, we say facilitation and inhibition, and relative to muscle testing as a tool for functional neurological evaluation, this represents itself as terms of strength and weak responses to muscle testing. So we can help the body heal itself by using muscle testing to find out where the patterns of facilitation and inhibition are. 

As D.D Palmer would say, whether there's too much or not enough nerve energy to give the body what it needs or remove the obstacle structure chemically and mentally so the body can heal itself.

And that's the philosophical basis for the things we do.

Want more from Dr. Wally Schmitt?

This post has been derived from a portion of the QA Course, primarily taught
by the late, great Dr. Wally Schmitt. 

To learn more about the QA Course, click here.

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