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How Muscle Checking Works

An article from ‘The Dominance Factor’ by Carla Hannaford, Ph.D.

Muscle checking (testing) as an indicator for bodily function and information was developed by Dr. George Goodheart in 1964 from the work of H. Kendall and F. Kendall.  With the proper intention and procedure, it is a very accurate way to assess the body’s wisdom about itself.

Muscle checking is usually done using the anterior deltoid muscle which is held out at a 45 or 90 degree angle from the body and is challenged by applying approximately 2 pounds of pressure to the forearm.   The mechanism by which we hold the arm up is well understood.  Physiologically it works through the intricate structure of the muscle fibres that utilise a feed forward/feedback system of communication with the nervous system.   All muscles constantly report their position and degree of stretch to the Centre Nervous System via sensory nerves from the spindle fibres (the stretch sensing devices) within the muscles themselves.   That’s the feedback system.  In addition, the intention to hold the arm up comes from the Central Nervous System and activates specific motor nerves which in turn activate muscle fibres to hold up the arm.   Additionally, there are nerves from the Central Nervous System to the spindle fibres to set their sensitivity to stretch so the arm can maintain its position.  That’s the feed forward system.  Each muscle (like the deltoid) is made up of hundreds of muscle fibres, each communicating through the spindle fibres to facilitate this feed forward/feedback system. 

Spindle fibres are unique sensory structures among the muscle fibres that not only provide information to the Central Nervous System by means of I- and II- afferents, but also receive information by many of the gamma-efferents.   There are up to thirteen nerve fibres to and from each muscle spindle.   This information provides the Central Nervous System with options on how to influence the specific sensitivity of the muscle spindle that will in turn affect what the muscle does (whether it contracts or relaxes to move the arm in a specific way).   The Central Nervous System sets the sensitivity of the muscle spindle by way of the nuclear bag and nuclear chain fibres which allows the arm to maintain its held position until a new intention is set.  In other words, if the arm starts to release it’s hold and the muscles stretch even a bit, spindle fibres send that message to the Central Nervous System which feeds forward a message to reset the sensitivity and contract the muscle fibres in order to hold the position of the arm.

We can tap into the body’s information system through this intricate feed forward/feedback system by setting a specific intention and then muscle checking.   With muscle checking, the muscle becomes a transducer for the subconscious or innate patterns that are difficult to access directly.   The intention becomes the key factor to input into the spindle fibre, adjusting its sensitivity, like a gauge or meter.   

It is scientifically accepted that the spindle apparatus situated among the muscle fibres is the hard wiring for why the muscle checking works.  However, our current scientific paradigm doesn’t hold the latitude necessary to understand the highly complex, non-linear dynamics of the spindle apparatus and the effects on it of intention.  By using a clear intention during muscle checking, I propose that we are affecting the sensitivity of the muscle to known and unknown information held within the body structure.  In the 1960’s Dr George Goodheart discovered he could obtain accurate health information using the muscle checking by first setting an intention with the person to obtain accurate health information.   Because of his exhaustive research, millions of professions, world-wide are currently using muscle checking to obtain accurate and useful information.  The accuracy of the muscle check decreases when either the facilitator or subject are not perfectly clear about their intention.  Perot, Meldener and Goubel found that the intention needed to be co-ordinated between the facilitator and the subject in order for the muscle check to be reliable.

The muscle checking procedure is easy to learn, but takes practice to perfect.  It has been an important tool for me, not only in my work, but also in becoming more sensitive and aware of my body’s subconscious and innate messages.   A very validating experience in muscle checking occurred for me with a group of Occupation Therapists in South Africa.  These professionals were highly trained, had private practices, and had also taught in the Medical Department at the University for many years.  Muscle checking confirmed all of the assessments they had already made with the children they were working with.  It also gave solid information, especially about hand dominance, that they were having a difficult time assessing with their professional training.  They were so impressed with its accuracy, they began using the muscle checking exclusively, saving themselves and their clients hours of testing and assessment work.