Applied Kinesiology: What is it and how can it help me?

Amazing! How did you do that? What just happened? Was that magic, voodoo, witchcraft, trickery? A patient's first experience with a Professional Applied Kinesiologist is pretty entertaining to watch, as the changes that occur in the body are instant, and the patient is often left baffled and bewildered, as this is completely new territory for most patients. So what is AK and how does it work? How can it be used to help you with your health problems / symptoms / concerns?

One of the great challenges is explaining to patients how Applied Kinesiology (AK) works. Patients certainly feel the changes that take place in their body... But because they have never experienced anything like an AK exam, some patient are left wondering what just took place. To say that Applied Kinesiology is complex is certainly an understatement... Its complexity even surpasses our current technological methods to study the physiological changes in a research setting. So to explain something so complex to the usual patient of varying backgrounds provides a significant challenge to the AK physician. But I will do my best to get the message out in this blog!

Stated in its most simplest terms...

AK is a diagnostic tool used to test nervous system function.

This is not to be taken lightly! Most people don't realize, that every single process that occurs in the body, does so under the guidance of the nervous system. Every process. Every organ, every joint, muscle, ligament, tendon, blood vessel, gland and tissue interacts with the nervous system. There is a feed-forward and feed-back communication system between the brain and the tissues, with the spinal cord as the highway to carry the messages back and forth at lightening speed.

Pain

Pain for instance, is a sensory experience, that involves stimulation of nerve receptors that tell your brain that there is something wrong with the body. The purpose of pain is for our own survival, to protect us from the damaging effects of the environment. It is in our best interest to listen to our body, and seek help when we are experiencing pain, as this usually is telling us that some form of tissue damage is occurring in the body. Now to add some complexity to this scenario, our organs when inflamed or damaged also transmit these signals, but often not in the same way as the rest of our body. It often presents as REFERRED pain. Most people are familiar with left arm and neck pain as being a potential sign of an impending heart attack. This is one example. Either way, these pain signals are being sent for a reason. In Dr. Craig's experience, covering up pain signals by medication is not getting to the root of the problem. It's only a method of getting the body to be quiet, so we can continue our lifestyle which is continuously damaging the body. It's kicking the can down the road until we have to deal with the problem in an extreme way (like surgery).

Applied Kinesiology can be looked at as a window into the nervous system. It's a way for the doctor to peer into the body of the patient by using its many highways of reflexes. To describe a simple reflex:

This is an example of what's called a "flexor-withdrawal reflex". It's what happens when you touch a hot stove, and your hands snaps back, before you even perceive pain. It's purpose is for survival. What's happening here, is that pain receptors (nociceptors) have been stimulated, which sends messages to the spinal cord, which relays the signals back to the flexor muscles to withdraw the limb from the area of pain. It's one of the most basic reflexes that serves to protect our body from injury. Now ask yourself, if you have persistent or chronic pain, what changes are continuously taking place in the spinal cord and muscular system? How are these changes affecting other joints, like your hips / back / shoulder?

Can these changes in the muscular system be detected? Can we use the body's system of reflexes to find the source of the pain?

We can! This is one of the many reasons Dr. Craig uses an AK examination in the treatment of my patients. AK uses very specific manual muscle testing, to test the function (or dysfunction) occurring in the muscular system (motor system). When dysfunction is found, often in the form of muscular weakness, there is a reason. That reason can often be detected in an AK exam, using the body's reflex systems to determine what will restore the function of the weakened muscle (back to a "strong" or normal state). Since sensory signals evoke changes in the motor system (like the reflex above), the doctor can stimulate different sensory reflexes to see if it evokes a change in muscle function. This gives the doctor insight on where imbalances are occurring in the body, and what to do about them.

Muscles are what move, support and stabilize the skeletal system and the joints of the body. If a patient has, for instance, low back pain, and the pain is mechanical in nature (with vertebrae misaligned), this misalignment does not occur independently of the muscular system! In order to bring lasting stability to the joints in the body, the muscular system (and therefore the nervous system) has to be functioning optimally!

Organ / gland dysfunction

AK has been used for decades to help locate and identify organs systems that are under stress. We use the term "stress" as a way to depict an organ that is producing abnormal signaling, due to some type of tissue injury, which is resulting in changes in muscle function (muscle weakness, for example). This is how AK can be used to identify and treat the cause of organ and gland dysfunction (constipation, heartburn, gas, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, thyroid, adrenal, etc etc). These reflexes are called "viscero-somatic reflexes". Interesting to note, the early pioneers of AK identified this reflex affecting the skeletal musculature about 20 years before they were ever identified in a research setting.

The muscular system in this case can be used as a guide to manage conditions affecting the organ / gland system. Depending upon which organ is involved, and the degree of damage that has taken place, co-management with a classically trained medical physician may have to take place (pancreas damage resulting in type II diabetes requiring insulin as one example). We have found that most cases of functional organic disorders respond well using the AK approach. In some cases it depends on the degree of damage that has occurred to the organ whether or not the organ will respond to the therapy. Length of time with the dysfunction doesn't always matter however (example, 50 year history of constipation).

What types of treatments are often recommended in an AK exam?

This depends entirely on each patient. Every patient has their own unique physiology, unique genetics, and their body is always in a state of adaptation. AK provides a treatment plan that is completely unique for each patient. We find that a multitude of different stressors can cause a single condition, or one stressor can cause many conditions. At this stage in the development of AK (over 50 years of clinical research), there are some very common treatments that arise likely because our environmental stressors have created situations where the adaptive capacity of the body is being over-run. One patient's low back pain may be due to purely structural forces, while another's maybe secondary to organ dysfunction, yet another's may be due to emotional stress. Common findings / treatments:

Structural * Removal of spinal and structural joint fixations, known in chiropractic as "subluxation" requiring chiropractic adjusting. Any joint in the body can be potentially problematic.

* Abnormal signaling due to previous scars / injuries: resulting in what's called "chronic nociception" which causes the bodies muscular and nervous systems to become "confused". This treatment is simple and reflexive in nature, sometimes requiring myofascial release of the tissues.

* Abnormal signaling from a previously injured muscle proprioceptor: Inside each muscle are nerve receptors that tell the spinal cord the length an tone of a muscle. These receptors can become injured, resulting in abnormal joint and muscle function. Treatment is a deep tissue resetting of the nerve receptors.

* Muscle dysfunction due to painful nodules in the muscle known as "trigger points": This usually requires direct pressure to the trigger point. This is a rather uncomfortable treatment but of course is provided within each patients unique pain tolerance.

Chemical

* Treatment of vitamin / mineral deficiency: Minerals here are most common. Can be any mineral, but Iodine, Zinc, Magnesium, and Molybdenum we find most commonly. Vitamin B12 deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency we find. Although, any vitamin or mineral deficiency may be involved.

* Treatment of organ / gland injury or damage: Feeding the involved organ or gland the exact nutrients (non-vitamin / mineral in many cases) may be necessary to improve the function of the organ / gland.

* Identification and removal of food toxins / allergies / sensitivities: This is a big problem affecting most people, although most are unaware. This is a big problem that only seems to be getting worse.

* Identification and removal of intestinal dysbiosis: This refers to abnormal populations of intestinal microbes. Because of the relationship between the microbes that live in our gut and our immune system, this is often commonly found in chronic inflammatory conditions. Another big problem, which also is getting worse in the population. Usually treated with an anti-microbial herb or herbs.

* Identification and removal of organ stagnation: this may require a chelation product (something that binds and grabs a toxin / metal) or something that promotes drainage (often in the lymphatic system, the sewage system of the cells).

Emotional Stress

* Balancing of hormones / neurotransmitters through by treatment of the organ / glands described above: Many times we find that a patient becomes more emotionally stable when their organ / gland systems are functioning optimally. * Removal of neuro-emotional complexes: Using Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET). This technique identifies unresolved emotions that are effecting our physiology. It taps into the Acupuncture Meridian System identified by the Chinese thousands of years ago. Very powerful technique.

The Big Picture of AK: The big picture here, is that there is not another diagnostic system out there, that can identify and remove imbalances as quickly, inexpensively, and create lasting corrections as AK. The ability to use the muscular system as a guide to determine what the body needs, and when it needs it, is unparalleled in modern therapeutics. It's approach is so broad and can affect healing on so many levels for so many different conditions.... It's Dr. Craig's pleasure to provide this service for his patients, and welcomes patients from anywhere abroad who need this level of care.

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