How to Carry Out a Muscle Response Test

The most crucial skill a kinesiologist needs to develop is how to test a muscle response. On the face of it, it looks easy. However everyone who comes to our courses admits that it takes a lot of practice to get it right. Would you like to try this at home and see how you get on? This is what you do.

Firstly positioning the limb is all important. It's essential to get the person you're testing to activate what is known as the 'prime mover'. This is the main muscle responsible for a particular movement of the limb or torso. You are going to learn how to test the response of the muscle called Pectoralis Major Clavicular. This muscle is situated in the front of our shoulder and allows us to bring our arm in towards the middle of our body and across up towards our head.
  1. Stand to the side of the person you're going to test. If you are standing on their left, ask them to raise their right arm level with their shoulder and at right angles to the body. (See picture of testing a person standing and lying on a couch).
  2. Place one hand on their left shoulder to steady them and your other hand just above the wrist of the arm you're going to test.
  3. This is the tricky bit; the limb needs to remain in the same position but the person needs to gently push towards their opposite ear whilst you are pushing down and outwards towards the floor. You must match each other's pressure. If there is no 'wobble', we describe the muscle as locked. If it is difficult for them to hold their arm in that position when you apply pressure, then the muscle is unlocked. It is a combination of locked and unlocked muscle response that the kinesiologist uses to learn all about what the body needs.


There are a few more things that you need to know.
  • You and the person you're testing need to breathe normally and not hold your breath.
  • You're testing muscle response, not strength so no brute force. Gentle pressure is all that is needed and you need to match each others pressure. The pressure is gradually applied and gradually released. The whole test should take no more than 2 seconds but should be smooth and should not jerk the limb.
  • You need to explain to the person you're testing that it isn't a test of strength but just the message from the brain to the muscle that's being tested. That means that if they find it difficult to keep the muscle where it is without exerting more force, then they should let it go and not fight to keep it there – the muscle is described as unlocked.
How do I know if the muscle I'm testing will unlock?
Okay, so lets assume that the pectoralis major clavicular muscle's response is locked. Now here's a test to help you to know what an unlocked muscle response feels like.

Use a video tape or audio tape (if you can find one any more!), which has magnetic properties, place this on the front of the shoulder over the muscle you're testing; or if you have a magnet, place the North Pole side against the front of the shoulder instead.

Test the limb in the same manner as above. Because the magnetic item placed on the muscle causes a sudden change to the electrical signal giving the muscle instructions to contract, the spindle cells are temporarily confused and the muscle should temporarily weaken or unlock. This is a normal reaction. Can you feel the difference in muscle response when you do this? This is what an unlocked muscle feels like.

FAQ's
  • I can't feel any difference with or without the magnetic item on the muscle, why not?
  • The person could be holding their breath or pushing too hard.
  • The person is not sure when you are going to begin the test. You need to tell the person when they should begin to apply pressure against you. A good way is to ask them to 'hold'.
It still doesn't work – why?
Try giving the person you're testing a few drops of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy (available from many chemists) just to relax them a little bit

Try giving yourself some Rescue Remedy to relax you!

Testing muscle response is the very basis of kinesiology
Now you have felt what an unlocked muscle feels like, try this:
Ask the person to think of something stressful to them and whilst they are doing so, test the pectoralis major clavicular muscle again. What happens? Something stressful will make a locked muscle unlock.