Is Manual Muscle Testing Legit?



Manual Muscle Testing is consistently under fire for being inconsistent. The pain science people and the movement aficionados love to target MMT to boost their own ideals. At every turn they point out the inaccuracies found in manual muscle testing. And you know what?

They’re absolutely right.

Wait. What? As someone that uses manual muscle testing as the basis for all treatments you may be thinking I’m crazy for admitting that.

Not crazy. Honest in all things at all times.

Manual Muscle Testing can be incredibly inaccurate if proper steps are not taken to remove bias and if one is unaware of the numerous factors that could influence the results.

I’ve seen videos of people hacking the nervous system and getting multiple responses. Well, yeah, of course they did. And there’s multiple reasons why. I’ll go over a few here.

One, they intend for the test to change. They are committed to showing a different result from what they originally found. Intention is a massive influencer of muscle testing.

Two, they apply proprioceptive stimulus to different areas of the body. They rub, tap, snap, hey look over there! Creating more input that the CNS is having to process.

Three, they don’t take into consideration what could be going on internally physically, mentally, and emotionally. All are contributing factors.

Four, the second and third tests are completely different than the original test performed! Ummm…. you think that might weigh in?

Manual Muscle Testing done intelligently.

A muscle test should be treated as a collection of valuable information. To get an accurate result you have to observe curiously.

Your intention should be null. Remove what you think should happen and remove any ego involved with being wrong or right in your guess. If you influence inaccurate information then you are cheating yourself and the patient/client out of accurate results. By simply performing a muscle test without any investment of the outcome, you will get a more precise read.

An understanding of what various proprioceptive stims are, how and where they’re being applied to the body, and how the CNS processes these stims and associated patterns is useful in muscle testing. A simple touch or pressure from your other hand, a sound nearby, a turn of the patients gaze, can cause a test to change and have you scratching your head.

Every organ, every meridian, thought, feeling, and emotion have an associated pattern. Often the result is in how a muscle tests. As I’ve explained numerous times, the CNS has two ways to communicate and one is through manual muscle testing.

Vector matters. If you are going to perform a muscle test and then challenge it in any way you need to make sure that you perform the exact same test in the exact same vector and with precisely the same amount of force as you did the first time. You can only compare apples to apples.

All good, but we can’t isolate muscles. *slywink*

The MMT naysayers are thinking they got it in the bag here. Lording it over us simple folk.

You’re damn right we can’t isolate a muscle. Which, said another way, means we can’t test a muscle in isolation. Yeah I said it.

We can’t isolate muscles. The body is not made that way. It understands movement. We raise an arm to get the cookies off the top shelf which we smartly stored out of reach of the littles wandering around here somewhere. We bend over to pick up all the f@$*ing Legos that are scattered around the floor like colorful little land mines waiting to take out their next victim. We roll over with a death grip on the blanket that our SO has wrapped around them like some kind of human burrito. Movements equal action. This is understood by the Motor Control Center.

This means that we can test movements, functions, or actions, yeah? There are many muscles working throughout the body to perform the action. Movers and stabilizers. It’s impossible to isolate any one thing.

So, why is it called manual muscle testing if we can’t isolate a muscle?

For the sake of simplicity.

We use our best guesstimate of the greatest power invoked by the most likely muscle and call it that for the sake of communicating with clients and other professionals. If I’m going to refer my client out to another practitioner that utilized the same manual muscle testing, I want them to be on the same page. They need to know precisely what we’ve tested and how it was tested.

It’s also useful for session note purposes. Now, I’ve also been known to write “death grip of blanket burrito” or “Lego evasive maneuvering tactics” to understand the full movement involved for my own notes. But since I need to go back at the follow up session and retest the previous work to see if there has been change, I better damn well know what I need to test.

More thoughts on my own manual muscle testing practices.

I’ve had this conversation with numerous curious clients. At some point they inevitably ask about the accuracy of testing. Or, my favorite, is when a muscle test changes and they immediately claim that I changed my pressure. Love that one as it opens up a huge learning opportunity.

Basically, I don’t care.

Huh? Utilizing MMT, for me, is a collection of information. I don’t care how something tests. I don’t care if I make a guess and find out it’s the opposite. You may be saying to yourself, “But I thought you just said to use MMT you shouldn’t make guesses on how a muscle will test!”. You’re right. And I also said that you shouldn’t have ego involved or be vested in the outcome of the test.

Ultimately, I could care less how it tests and am only after the information that it provides for treatment purposes.

As much as I want to help those that are in my office and on my table, whatever ultimately happens is not up to me and does not affect my life in one way or another. Harsh? Not at all.

Your CNS is either going to dig what we worked on or it’s not. It’s going to use it’s neuro brain glitter aka neuroplasticity and optimize its movement potential or tell us to keep working. You may leave my office and start making positive changes that ultimately gives you a more fulfilling life. Yay you! Or you’re going to leave my office feeling the same as when you walked in and looking for the next magic cure. Womp womp.

Either way, your outcome does not directly affect me or my way of life. I truly enjoy helping people to the best of my ability. However, I am not perfect, there is no magic cure, and we each have to put in the work to do the best we can.

For me, Manual Muscle Testing is absolutely legit. It’s an astonishing way to communicate with the nervous system to optimize movement potential when performed intelligently and with consistency. It’s your choice.

2 thoughts on “Is Manual Muscle Testing Legit?

  1. You wrote this: “Or, my favorite, is when a muscle test changes and they immediately claim that I changed my pressure. Love that one as it opens up a huge learning opportunity.”

    I just had this done ( mmt )and while I am amazed, I am also skeptical and I am doing research to allay my skepticism, because I do find it interesting. But as the CP was testing me with the muscle test, I did wonder if he was changing the type of pressure each time. Would you please explain what you meant about a “huge learning opportunity “. I am open to learning as much as I can about this. I am losing my faith in the traditional American medical field because all they seem to do is cover symptoms. Whatever happened to healing? I want to be healed if possible and this is why I am trying alternatives medicine.

    Please tell me more about this MMt and why it seems they are using different types of pressure to get a certain outcome.

    • Hi MaryGW! I commend you on being a catalyst in your own healing process by seeking out alternative methods! With this question, I can only speak to my own methods and would never presume to assume what methods or purpose the practitioner you are working with is seeking.

      MMT can be applied in numerous ways to gather information; strength, endurance, neurological availability, etc. The type of testing I generally apply is seeking the neurological availability. I’ll use the example of finding a ‘weak’ MMT and how the learning opportunity is presented.

      A client will readily feel the difficulty and weakness of such a MMT. Generally, a chuckle and grin accompanies it, because it’s amusing to try and hold something and not be able to! This gives me information so that I can treat accordingly. After my corrections I will then go back and apply the exact same MMT, vector, pressure, length of time, etc. As I stated in my article, I have no investment in the outcome. It either works, or it doesn’t and I go back to the drawing board. If the MMT is now strong, the client will often feel as if I’ve changed my pressure. It usually feels as if I’m pressing lighter, but that’s only because it is now easy to hold. Easy equals efficient and efficient equals less energy expenditure.

      I then ask the skeptical client to focus entirely on my pressure, the vector, and the length of time I hold the test. Once they are completely focused on this, I will start to apply more pressure. They will instinctively start meeting that same pressure on their own. This is a great challenge! Applying more pressure and having the client be able to maintain it means it will likely hold up in daily activities as well. Why would I want to cheat a client out of the ability to progress their situation in such a matter?!?!? I absolutely wouldn’t.

      Hopefully this helps to answer your question. – Marissa

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