The history of kinesiology

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The history of kinesiology

Kinesiology is both a science and an art.  It involves direct interaction between the practitioner and the client, which means intuition and feelings are major considerations when it comes to getting a permanent resolution to physical problems.

RW Lovett: The first kinesiologist

The science of manual or physical muscle testing was first developed in the early 20th century by a Boston orthopaedic surgeon, R. W. Lovett. Lovett 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. His was a purely physical approach, but it set the ball rolling for others to follow.

Early discoveries

In the 1960’s. Dr George Goodheart, a Detroit-based chiropractor, took an interest in the work of Kendall and Kendall who had published a significant work on muscle testing. He was a very keen observer and one of those rare people who are able to make fantastic discoveries by looking at research from a different perspective and re-synthesising the information in a different way.  Many people had seen what George Goodheart saw but none saw what George saw !

Florence Peterson Kendall. Courtesy of Health Sciences & Human Services Library, University of Maryland

The pioneer of kinesiology

Dr. Goodheart had a client who had a problem with his shoulder blade. When this man pushed against a wall, his shoulder blade  would lift off his back and poke out.  Dr. Goodheart remembered reading in Kendall and Kendall’s book, that a lifted scapula related to a muscle called the anterior serratus, which holds the scapula close to the back. The protruding shoulder blade suggested the anterior serratus muscle was weakened.

After a busy day in his clinic, Goodheart set aside time to work on this client and as predicted found the anterior serratus was weak. (see picture). He then began to firmly massage the beginnings (origins) and ends (insertions) of the muscle and in so doing found a series of hard little beads or muscle knots. As he worked more firmly, the knots disappeared.  He went along the muscle and pressed all the knots until they disappeared.
Then he again had the man push against the wall. This time the shoulder blade was fine. Further, when the muscle was manually retested, it locked strongly.

  • Anterior serratus muscle out of balance causing the scapula to protrude
  • An interesting case history in holistic health
  • Pectoralis major clavicular muscle connects to the stomach meridian

As Dr. Goodheart began to increasingly use muscle testing in his practice, he found some clients had specific muscles that would test weak when they had certain types of disease conditions.

For instance, he found the pectoralis major clavicular (PMC), the chest muscle that connects to the collar bone, would generally test weak in clients who complained of stomach ulcers. He would apply certain chiropractic manipulations for the treatment of ulcers and reassess the strength of the PMC muscles.  The change in muscle response was immediate and visible and the physical complaint often improved quickly.

Connecting physical muscle responses to physical organs in the body was a major break through.

Other natural solutions discovered

Dr.Frank Chapman discovered Neurolymphatic points

Dr. Goodheart started looking for answers in other areas. His quest led him to the work of an early American osteopath, Frank Chapman, who had observed that many of the symptoms of disease had their origins in sluggish lymph flow. Lymph is the bodily fluid that carries nutrients to tissues and organs and carries toxins away. Sluggish lymph flow means that over time, tissues become more toxic and less functional.  Chapman published his findings in the 1930’s and called his work the Chapman Reflex Points.

He established that rubbing the reflex point Chapman had assigned to a disease would often strengthen the muscle associated with the same pathology. In spite of the great success of his newly discovered origin / insertion technique and the application of Chapman Reflex Points, some conditions and their associated weakened muscles failed to respond.

Dr. Goodheart began to systematically investigate the relationship between Chapman Reflex Points and the muscle weaknesses he had found to be associated with the same disease conditions.

Holistic medicine: Kinesiology, the ‘energy’ connection

Not content with having made 2 major new discoveries, Dr. Goodheart kept looking. In the 1930’s another American chiropractor, Terence Bennett, had come up with his own model for restoring health based on proper blood flow. Like the lymph system, when blood flow becomes congested, tissues don’t get the right amount of oxygen and nutrition. Like Chapman, Bennett had worked out his own set of reflex points. Most were on the head and upper body with a few points below the waist and on the legs. Bennett found that applying light pressure to these points would stimulate increased blood flow to the associated tissues and organs.

Goodheart began to systematically investigate the relationships between Bennett Reflex Points and those muscles that would not strengthen with his other techniques; he was delighted to note that in most cases it constituted the missing link.

Applied Kinesiology (AK) is born

Working primarily with the Chapman and Bennett Reflex Points as well as the many other techniques that he had discovered, Dr. Goodheart was able to  assign specific points to specific Muscle weaknesses.  This marked the beginning of the new science of Applied Kinesiology which is now used by trained professionals  to bring health and harmony into people lives.

However this work remained within the chiropractic fraternity until Dr. John Thie, recognising the potential to help humanity released Touch For Health to the world

Holistic Health: Our unseen reality revealed

We live in a world where we take so much for granted.  For example your thoughts and your feelings are not physical, but they are real and they exist in and ‘energy field’ that cannot be measured by conventional means.  This is also true of the lifeforce energy that gives us life.  So How can we research and understand this unseen world.  Well that is exactly where Dr George Goodheart did next.

Acupuncture is a way to restore physical health that has been successfully used by the Chinese for thousands of years, yet there was no recognition of it’s benefits in conventional medicine. The 2 ‘worlds’ had never met.  Undaunted, Dr Goodheart started research this field.

Energy Healing: The acupuncture connection

His research contained and included looking at the interaction between acupuncture meridians and muscles.  This was truly pioneering work bringing Eastern concepts into the western world with a real demonstrable effect led to a major break through in understanding how the life-force energy flows through the human body.  Because the Chinese had named their meridians after the organ with which they were associated, Goodheart, in a flash of insight, realised the organ was the key in this relationship. When the organ system was stressed (dis-eased); the muscle may develop an imbalance (weakness); the Chapman Reflex Point may become tender; the Bennett Reflex Point may become active, and the associated meridian flow may be disturbed.

When the organ system was stressed (dis-eased), the muscle may develop an imbalance (weakness).
The Chapman Reflex Point may become tender,  the Bennett Reflex Point may become active, and the associated meridian flow may be disturbed.

Dr John Thie: A Revolutionary Idea

Another member of the Goodheart group was chiropractor Dr John Thie, who saw the synthesis of Western and Eastern knowledge as very exciting. It strengthened his belief that people should be able to take care of their own health, and that the West should change the foundation of its health system from crisis management to prevention.  He realised that if everyone could balance their own energy on a regular basis they would be able to maintain their own health more effectively. Dr.Thie took the basic techniques that had been worked out in Applied Kinesiology and developed a new system that he called Touch for Health.

Dr. John Thie. Developer and founder of Touch For Health

Despite huge resistance from the AP community, John Thie started to teach the basic principles of Touch for Health in workshops that could be taken over a couple of weekends.   Often his very simple system could produce profoundly positive health outcomes. From California, it quickly spread throughout the United States and from there to many other countries across the world. Now there are millions of people in over 50 countries who know about Touch for Health and who can practice it with great effect in the comfort of their own home.

Touch for Health made the basic principles of Applied Kinesiology available to ordinary people and became the foundation for the development of a wide range of new discoveries.  This is a testimony to John Thie’s fortitude in the face of great adversity and the world is a much better place because of it.

An extraordinary legacy: The Touch For Health Tree

Who would have thought that so many powerful and profound methods of providing holistic health would have come from one man’s vision. The ‘Kinesiology Tree’  gives us a visual representation of  all of the different types of kinesiology we have today. You can click on the link and it will take you to the website of the relevant folks involved.

This is a tremendous resource for those interested in seeing where any branch of kinesiology came from. It will help you to see just how big an impact ‘Touch for Health’ has had on the  world.