A. K. Story

Adapted from chapter one You'll Be Better

The Story of Applied Kinesiology

by George J. Goodheart, Jr., D.C.

I graduated from the National College of Chiropractic in Chicago, Illinois, in 1939, after attending pre-chiropractic at the University of Detroit. I began practice in association with my father late in 1939; however, the advent of World War II didn't give me much time to practice. I went through the Air Corps Cadet Program in 1941, during the early war years, and through a happy series of fortunate events became involved in innovative air operations research. My active practice really began in 1946, following my release as a major from the United States Air Force. I resumed active practice with my father until his death in the early '60s.

Because of my father's background in general practice, we saw many patients with numerous problems. As is usually the case, the further along I got in practice the more intelligent my father seemed to become  the obvious fact being that I became more aware of my inadequacies and his excellent qualities. I grew in stature and development because of my association with him and his superb diagnostic and clinical work.

My time in the Air Force give me a taste for innovative opportunities, and also taught me a practical method of dealing with problems. This has proven to be very beneficial in my life.

Not long after my father's passing, a young man presented himself at the office complaining of a relatively common problem, although it was occurring at a very early age. He was losing his hair. He had a rapidly receding widow's peak, and at the age of 24 seemed quite concerned. He was a stocky young man, quite well built, and he recently had been discharged from the paratroopers. Despite apparent good health he was suffering from a rapid hair loss. Examination revealed a hyperthyroid problem. At that time we were testing the thyroid function as we still do, by measuring the speed of the Achilles tendon reflex. The Achilles tendon is put on a stretch and tapped with a testing hammer; the speed of the Achilles reflex is thus measured by the foots path through a photoelectric beam. This is the same type of activity as when your knee jerks under the knee jerk test. This impulse is transferred electrically to an EKG, which then gives a printout of the degree of functional capacity of the Achilles tendon reflex responding to the tap. The normal time is 330 milliseconds, and the patients time was approximately 220 ms which is abnormally fast. I had learned that natural amounts of vitamin A and a source of thymus were practically specific for hyperthyroid problems, along with regular chiropractic care. Upon administering this nutritional support and the proper treatment mechanically, he showed a tremendous response in about two weeks. His hairline stopped receding, for which he was very grateful and pleased, and he asked my advice about another problem.

The young man couldn't get a job in any of the factories in our town because he was unable to pass the physical, due to his inability to press in a forward direction with one of his arms. One of his shoulder blades stuck out in a rather unusual fashion, protruding from the chest wall. He asked if I could do anything about it. I said, "Well, probably it's some type of anomaly, a variation in a probably normal function." We did some x-rays to prove this potential but; there was no abnormality. I could offer him no further advice as to why this particular condition was present.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon your point of view, I was able to procure a job for him with a nutritional company where we had our offices. He would come into our office, and quite often in a crowded waiting room would ask me in a loud voice, "When are you going to fix my shoulder?" This embarrassed me somewhat, and I would motion him to come to the inner office away from the scene of my embarrassment. I still had to tell him that there wasn't much I could do about it.

Having been embarrassed for the last time by his frequent inquiry, I resurrected a book given to me by a colleague, Dr. Raymond Koshay, a very fine chiropractor in Port Huron, Michigan, whom I had helped with a knee problem. I remembered that there is a muscle that pulls the shoulder blade forward so that it lies flat on the chest wall. I knew the muscle existed, but I wasn't sure of its actual origin and insertion. When I applied myself to the book, Muscle Testing by Kendall & Kendall, I soon found the muscle that pulls the shoulder blade forward on the chest wall is the anterior serratus. There was a method for testing it that involved placing the patient's hand on the wall, then pressing on the spine in a forward direction. I did that, and the shoulder blade immediately stuck out.

My patient said he had had the condition for as long as he could remember. When I palpated the muscle on the side of involvement I found no muscle atrophy, which is the usual pattern that occurs, for example, if you keep your arm in a cast. Upon palpating the muscle I felt an unusual nodulation at the attachment of the muscle to the anterior and lateral aspects of the rib cage, which I didn't feel on the other side. The small nodulations were quite apparent to the palpating finger, and in an effort to identify their nature I pressed on them. Not only were they minimally painful, they seemed to disappear as I pressed on them with my palpating pressing finger. Encouraged by the apparent disappearance of the first one or two nodules , I continued to press on all of the small areas that we later learned to be avulsive in character, which means a tearing away of the muscle from its attachment on the covering of the bone, the periosteum. This tearing of the muscle attachment from the periosteum, produced a characteristic nodulation in these cases of micro-avulsion.

Having palpated and pressed on all the small nodulations coinciding with the attachments of the muscle to the rib cage, I then surveyed the muscle. It felt the same, but this time I noticed the patients scapula (shoulder blade) lying in a normal position on the posterior chest wall. Surprised but pleased I repeated the test, having him place his hands in front of him against a plywood panel that separated one section of the office from another, and I pressed hard on his spine. The shoulder blade did not pop out, and he looked at me with an inquiring glance and said, "Why didn't you do that before?" I looked back at him, serious of face and direct of eye, and said, "Well, you have to build up to a thing like this. You didn't get sick overnight." It was an automatic response, but all I could think of at the time. He was pleased and I was delighted. It was unusual to see such a rapid response.

In an effort to identify this unusual reaction without revealing my surprise, I requested that he return to the office the next day so I could check on his hair loss. Surprised, he told me that he hadn't lost any hair in six months. I mentioned that he could never be too sure, so he showed up the next day. I looked at his hair and said it looked fine. Then I said, "By the way, let's test that muscle." The muscle remained strong and has done so ever since! I have seen this patient from time to time since that first incident in 1964.

Emboldened by this unusual success, I began to test muscles by the method of Kendall & Kendall that is used by military, civil and government agencies to rate disability and is a standard method of diagnosis. I found that many patients showed muscle weaknesses. They also denied a history of trauma, but many patients responded to the hard, heavy pressure at the origin and insertion, although many did not.

Fundamentally, my rate of success with patients was rising and I communicated this method of testing along with the rather primitive method of treatment, to my colleagues. One of those colleagues, Dr. Pat Finucan, sent me a patient who had an unusual type of sciatic neuralgia, a painful problem involving the lower limb that caused severe pain if he were to stand, sit or lie down, but disappeared when he walked. Dr. Finucan had found a weakness of the tensor fascia lata, the muscle covering the lateral portion of the thigh that is associated with outward movement of the leg. Despite efforts to correct the muscle by spinal adjustment or locally, using the origin-insertion technique, he had been unsuccessful in relieving the patient's pain or changing the disability diagnosed by the muscle testing.

Because of the unusual history, I felt that this was an involvement of the lymphatic system. It is drained by a variety of modes, but fundamentally by the squeezing action of the muscles on the lymph vessels. Walking relieved his pain, indicating this possibility. I palpated the lymph glands on the lateral aspect of the thigh and felt nothing unusual in comparison to the uninvolved left side. I also palpated for the potential of any sacroiliac disturbance, because occasionally we get lymph nodulation in the region of the sacroiliac joint if there is a sacroiliac disturbance. I found none of these, and the patient was in a great deal of distress while lying on his back. After palpating for diagnostic information, which I did not find, the patient looked up at me and said, "That's the first relief I've ever gotten." I looked at him and said, very bravely, "That's what you came here for," indicating that it was not the surprise to me that it was. Astonished by this rather quick success but not understanding the basis, I continued to initiate the palpation I had accidentally used to relieve his pain. He remarked that the pain he had experienced for many, many months was now completely absent; subsequent investigation and diagnosis revealed a complete disappearance of the longstanding and chronic irritation of the sciatic nerve.

My secretary, a very fine German woman, who had been with me for many years, had quite a bit of sinus trouble and consistently showed a head tilt when she had a sinus disturbance. Despite the fact that I could find a weakened muscle associated with the head tilt, the original technique used on the young man with the hair loss did not produce any muscle strengthening, nor did it affect the sinus involvement. Thinking that one had to simply palpate and treat the muscle, such as had been done to the sciatic patient earlier that afternoon, I tested her neck flexors by having her raise her head and turn it slightly to one side; the neck muscles tested weak. I attempted to repeat the procedure that helped the sciatic patient by running my hand along the lateral aspect of the sternocleidomastoid muscle that runs from the back of the head to the collarbone. I felt nothing different on palpating and testing the muscle with the technique used earlier in the day on the gentleman with sciatic neuralgia. I triumphantly tried to test her neck muscles again, and to my chagrin her neck muscles were possibly even weaker than before, I almost injured her head by the sudden collapse of her neck to the testing direction of my hand. I said rather despairingly, "It sure seemed to work on that fellow this morning. I can't understand why it doesn't work on you now." Then I thought that perhaps what I pressed on was something unassociated with the muscle itself, but possibly associated with some lymphatic circuit breakers postulated by an osteopath named Chapman. Chapmans reflexes were associated with organs and glands. I stimulated the sinus reflex of Chapman and not only did it improve her sinus condition, it also strengthened the sternocleido-mastoid muscle. Investigation soon found specific muscles associated with the different Chapman reflexes. When stimulating the reflex point that strengthened the associated muscle there was often a change in the associated organ. By now I was becoming convinced of a relationship between muscles and particular organs or glands. A muscle moderately weak on testing often appeared to be associated with a weak viscera or organ. Evidence of a weak pancreas, stomach, liver, or kidney that could be measured by x-ray, biochemistry, or by some other accepted test, would correspond to a weakened muscle. This relationship, rather tenuous at first, became more and more evident as time went on. The use of muscle testing gave a diagnostic ability to determine the need to stimulate the reflex and whether the stimulation was effective as observed by the muscle strength immediately improving. A more descriptive name for Chapmans reflexes is neurolymphatic reflex. This began to explain, in part, the visceral improvements that occurred from musculoskeletal corrections. I found a strong relationship between the spinal level of neurolymphatic activity and structural aberrations of the spine, but this was not always the case. It was as if there might have been an original subluxation or lesion of the spine, a functional disturbance of the spine, that either spontaneously self-corrected or was corrected by manipulation, but the long-term effects of that disturbance remained. For example, if a heavy rugs eccentric position in a spinning home washer-dryer causes a vibration, the washers vibration sensor turns the washer off to prevent damage from the vibration. This usually triggers an alarm as well until someone attends to the problem by opening the washer and, seeing the rug in an eccentric position, rearranges it. After closing the panel on the washer, a circuit breaker must often be reset. In other words, two things need to be done: rearrange the rug structure, and then reset a circuit breaker.

We postulated that the lymphatic centers were circuit breakers in this sort of analogous context. This proved to be a valuable system of analysis, and the response rate continued to rise in patients. We started to see more and more patients upon whom we did more and more muscle testing.

An Italian woman came to see me, complaining of a headache for 30 of her 49 years. On testing the muscles I observed some muscles to be weak on both the right and left sides of her body. I noticed that if she took a deep breath, some muscles on her right side strengthened; but the deep breath seemed to weaken the muscles on her left side. Instead of taking a deep breath and producing strength on her left side, letting the air out seemed to strengthen the muscles on that side. She also exhibited a rather unusual configuration in terms of analysis of the level of her head. Looking at the position of her ears in relationship to her head, the right ear was lower than the left, as was her occiput, a bone at the back of the skull. Looking at her from the rear confirmed that it was lower on the right, but looking at her from the front revealed eyebrow and eye to be higher on the right and lower on the left, just the opposite of what I had observed looking at her from the back view.

Thinking perhaps that the patients ears were in an altered position, I compared her ear position by measuring down from the vertex. I found that the ears were equally spaced on her head measuring from the top down, yet there was an obvious discrepancy between the level of her ears and the level of her eyes; instead of making a parallel pattern they made a wedge pattern, which was very confusing. Could this be related with a cranial fault as described by Sutherland? I had been aware of the work of William Garner Sutherland, an osteopath who postulated the concept that the bones of the skull move as you breathe, much like the gills of a fish. He developed the concept that there is a vestigial gill mechanism in the skull, and by long experimentation on himself, using many ingenious devices, he attempted to limit the motion of his skull. By observation of his own response he published an original text entitled, The Cranial Bowl. His work was later documented and revised by Harold Magoun, DO, entitled Osteopathy in the Cranial Field. Both the first and second editions of Dr. Magoun's books are available.

The concept that the bones of the skull have motion was contrary to my anatomical and osteological training, yet in an effort to understand the problems produced by the patient I was examining, I attempted to make a gentle correction to her skull in coordination with her breathing. After four or five deep inspirations and expirations with my directed pressure on the skull she looked at me and her eyes widened as she said, "That's the first relief I've ever gotten." I looked at her, again serious face, and with true sincerity said, "Well, that's what you come here for," to again disguise my surprise at her rapid response.

We then began to test muscles with phases of respiration and found that many muscles respond to inspiration, some to expiration. Interestingly some even respond to a half-breath held out, some respond only to a breath taken only at the nostrils, and some respond to a breath taken only at the mouth. Some respond to breathing through one nostril as opposed to the other, and some respond in an opposite fashion. We soon found fourteen basic cranial faults with the primary investigative method being what strengthened a weak muscle.

This resulted in many, many cases improving from numerous conditions. Investigation revealed that not only do the bones of the skull move in a predetermined fashion, but so do the vertebral segments which have a rocking-type of motion. We soon found there was also sacral and coccyx motion, as well as a specific pattern of motion within the entire pelvis that corresponds to the phases of respiration.

This new muscle association aided greatly in the application of the cranial concept. The Sutherland concept, as well as those that followed, used topographical anatomical changes for cranial corrections. The addition of respiration affecting muscle strength added a measure of diagnostic certainty and also safety to this relatively new science. Time has shown that a respiratory relationship exists in the spinal fluid flow rates; a critical factor in the production of routine cranial correction is to correlate muscle weakness that strengthens with respiration.

While lecturing in Rochester, NY, I was asked to treat a young boy with asthma. The usual medications had been ineffective, but he was having some response to chiropractic technique by a young doctor attending the lecture. The boy was suffering an acute asthmatic episode at the time of the lecture. I saw him during the lunch period.

By now we had found that the adrenal glands are responsible to a great extent for failure to produce adequate adrenalin, agreeing with the medical approachthe crisis care type of approach to asthma seemed time-honored, at least pharmaceutically. We found a weak sartorious and gracilis muscle that time had shown to be related to potential failure of lymphatic circulation to the adrenal gland, but investigation of the neurolymphatic reflexes and their treatment did not change the weakness found on testing the sartorius muscles.

The young boy was lying on his back, one foot pointing straight up and the other foot lying loosely to one side. In an effort to correct the problem I had already used the neurolymphatic reflex and attempted an origin-insertion technique, with no success. I knew that occasionally the lymph system is sluggish because of failure of the system to drain. I used what was called a lymphatic pump. This, too, was unsuccessful, but I was aware of a primitive cranial technique of simply spreading the cranial sutures as advocated by Dr. James Alberts, Sr., a very fine chiropractor in the Southwest.

On attempting to spread the cranial sutures in a very simplified fashion there was no change. To evaluate the problem I re-attempted to spread the sagittal suture, which experience had shown me was occasionally of some value in lymphatic blocks. My index fingers were resting on the posterior fontanel area with the rest of my fingers spreading the sagittal suture on top of the skull. I felt an insistent pulsation, very faint at first, at the posterior fontanel. The pulsation was 72 beats per minute despite the fact that his carotid arteries were beating at a rate of about 120 and his respirations were at least 40. I placed my fingers on a wall to see if I still felt the 72 beat, maybe coming from my own fingers; it was not there. I reapplied my fingers to the posterior fontanel and again felt the pulsation that became more insistent and persistent and gaining in strength. Finally the young man gradually stopped his labored breathing, took a deep breath and began to breathe easily. Simultaneously his foot rotated up into a parallel position with its opposite member. The doctor attending the youngster, who had asked me to see the patient, looked at me and said, "Good gracious, Doctor, that's marvelous." And I looked at the doctor, very serious of face, and said, "That's what you come here for."

I recognized the pulsation might relate to reflexes first discovered by Terence Bennett, a chiropractor in California. He developed a foundation for teaching his material and wrote extensively in the early '30s on the technique. With his departure from active practice, and upon his death, Dr. Floyd Slocum, one of the early pioneers in the American Chiropractic Association, took over his activity. The Neurological Research Foundation continues to be active under the auspices of Dr. Martin King from California.

Continued investigation found many of the Bennett reflexes related to muscle weakness. We now had another method, called the neurovascular reflex technique, for the correction of muscle weakness. The methods now included the hard, heavy pressure at the origin and insertion of the muscle described earlier, the activation of the neurolymphatic reflexes, the application of cranial technique, and the use of neurovascular receptors.

By now I had become pretty well convinced of a relationship between viscera and muscle. A patient and good friend returning from Hawaii brought me one of the first copies of Felix Mann's book, Acupuncture, Ancient Chinese Art Of Healing, published by Random House. In the books chapter entitled "The Five Elements," on page 92, he spoke about an organ relationship which included many aspects of acupuncture, giving four points to tonify or stimulate the area and four points to sedate if the organ was overactive.

In an effort to relate these points to kinesiology parameters, we attempted stimulating the points for tonification and found occasional response in muscles. Attempts to weaken muscles with the sedation points found occasional response in muscles. I wrote the first book showing acupunctures relationship to applied kinesiology in 1966. It was the only AK research manual that did not go to a second printing; the concept was too new at the time. Since that time acupuncture has grown to be a standard portion of applied kinesiology and forms a basis of much of the information we have been able to identify about the meridian system.

We now have five arrows, so to speak, in our quiver. We can shoot an arrow along the origin-insertion, neurolymphatic, neurovascular, cranial, and the acupuncture path. Each of these develops its own rules and special circumstances. Applied kinesiology is based upon the fact that body language never lies. The opportunity of understanding body language is enhanced by the ability to use muscles as indicators of body language. The original method for testing muscles and determining function, by the methods first advocated by Kendall and Kendall, is a prime diagnostic device. Once muscle weakness has been ascertained, a variety of therapeutic actions is available too numerous to enumerate here.

The opportunity to use the body as an instrument of laboratory analysis is unparalleled in modern therapeutics because the response of the body is unerring. If one approaches the problem correctly, makes the proper and accurate diagnosis and treatment, the response is adequate and satisfactory to both the doctor and patient.

The name of the game, to coin a phrase, is to get people better. The body heals itself in a sure, sensible, practical, reasonable, observable, predictable manner. "The healer within can be approached from without." Man possesses a potential for recovery through the innate intelligence or the physiological homeostasis of the human structure.

This recovery potential with which man is endowed needs the hand, the heart, and the mind of a trained individual to bring it to potential being, and to allow the recovery to take place which is man's natural heritage. This benefits man both individually and collectively, and it also benefits the doctor who has rendered the service allowing the force that created the structure of the body to operate unimpeded. This benefit can be compounded by knowledge with physiological facts and with predictable certainty.

A tribute to the founder of applied kinesiology

By Marcello Caso, DC, DIBAK
and William Maykel, DC, DIBAK

In a world in which differing philosophies at times causes chiropractic to turn on itself and some medical disciplines still attempt to undermine the value of our science and practice, it is rare to find an individual who has earned the respect of both chiropractic and medicine by integrating the best tenants of physical medicine from all of the healing disciplines.

Dr. George J. Goodheart, Jr., a second-generation chiropractor, is the founder, developer and foremost authority on the science of applied kinesiology, a system of muscle testing used for functional neurological evaluation. Doctors of chiropractic, osteopathy, homeopathy, dentistry and medicine use the methods he developed. The discoveries he initially made in 1964 have spread throughout the world, so much so that in Germany alone, 10,000 medical doctors use applied kinesiology and A-K is in the process of becoming a recognized medical specialty in Austria.

Goodheart was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1918 and completed chiropractic school at the National College of Chiropractic in 1939. As a student of nutrition, Goodheart learned at the side of Royal Lee, DDS, founder of the Standard Process vitamin company, and became a prominent lecturer on nutritional topics in the 1950s and 1960s. Since that time, he has continued to lecture extensively at medical, dental and chiropractic meetings and colleges in North America, Japan, Australia and throughout Europe.

In 1964, Goodheart became aware of a muscle-testing system developed by two physical therapists, Kendall and Kendall. Through investigation, he made the first clinical observations that inhibited (or weak) muscles could be facilitated by applying specific techniques. From these beginnings, the body of work we currently know as applied kinesiology was developed.

Goodhearts genius comes about in his ability to take techniques and findings from other healthcare disciplines, streamline them in a practical fashion and bring these pieces of the puzzle together into a cohesive whole, rendering them clinically applicable.

An example of this is his success in taking the work of Travell and Simons as published in their texts, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, and differentiating myofascial techniques to identify when each one was clinically most suitable for a particular case. He took the guesswork out of the process. This same inquisitiveness has allowed Goodheart to elaborate diagnostic techniques for innumerable procedures developed elsewhere in the fields of medicine, osteopathy, dentistry and traditional Chinese medicine and apply them to a chiropractic setting.

This pioneer has had a distinguished career that includes:
 He was the first doctor of chiropractic ever appointed to the United States Olympic Sports medicine committee for the 1980 Lake Placid Games.
 In 1987, he was given the Leonardo da Vinci Award by the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential as one of the worlds pioneers in the rehabilitation of brain-injured children.
 In 1988, Goodheart was nominated by the members of Congress for the Presidential medal of Freedom Award, the highest civilian award bestowed by the President on behalf of the nation.

 In 1998 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK), the organization he founded.
 In 2001, he was featured in TIME magazine as an innovator in alternative medicine.

The ICAK (U.S.) is honoring Goodheart in celebration of his 85th birthday at its annual meeting, June 26-29, 2003, in Chicago.

Dr. Marcello Caso has been an assistant editor of The International Journal of Applied Kinesiology. His practice is in Milan, Italy. He can be reached at [email protected].

Dr. William Maykel, the current chairman of the ICAK-USAs public relations committee, practices in Auburn and Wellesley, Mass.

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