Q&A with Fr John Flader: Is kinesiology valid?

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A friend said she has been suggested to see a kinesiologist for help with some medical issues and she asked me what I thought about it. I don’t know anything about this form of treatment and wondered what you thought.

The first question we should ask is, what is kinesiology? In simple terms, kinesiology is the study of the body’s movement. Kinesiologists use their knowledge of human physiology and movement to help recover patients’ mobility and improve their lives through exercise.

The Australian Kinesiology Association (AKA) website says about it: “Kinesiology encompasses holistic health disciplines which use the gentle art of muscle monitoring to access information about a person’s well being. Originating in the 1970’s, it combines Western techniques and Eastern wisdom to promote physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. Kinesiology identifies the elements which inhibit the body’s natural internal energies and accessing the life enhancing potential within the individual.”

The website goes on to say that initial research in the area began in the 1960s when Dr George Goodheart discovered that muscle testing could be used to gather information from the body. The system was called “applied kinesiology” and it saw chiropractors embracing Chinese medicine techniques of acupressure and meridian systems. Professional kinesiology practitioners undertake years of training to be able to access the movement of energy – or what the Chinese call ‘Chi’ – throughout the body.

The Vatican’s document on the New Age, “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life” (2003) does not pass judgment on these forms of treatment, limiting itself merely to mentioning them.”

Although Chinese medicine, which uses acupuncture among other forms of treatment, is regarded as a complementary or alternative form of medicine in Australia, it is a highly regarded and successful treatment for many conditions. Similarly, chiropractic medicine is considered complementary, but it too is widely practised and successful.

The AKA website describes how the treatment works: “Blocks or stresses prevent smooth energetic transmission, thus affecting functioning of our bio-systems, resulting in changes in energy. Muscle monitoring involves challenging the bio-feedback mechanism present in all muscles to reveal imbalances within the body. The ‘read out’, or findings, may present as physical pain, mental discomfort and the many expressions of disease.

These can include allergies, depression, postural problems, poor performance levels, learning and relationship difficulties, digestive and nervous disorders – whatever the presenting problem, the system is saying it is malfunctioning. The real goal of any kinesiology ‘balance’ is to identify the bottom line cause of any imbalance and then resolve it.”

Another kinesiology website says: “Kinesiology is concerned with imbalances in the body’s energy. In this respect, kinesiology has close links with the acupuncture concept of energy flow.” Since acupuncture has been found to be a very successful treatment for some conditions, kinesiology too may very well prove effective.

Has the Church said anything about kinesiology? The Vatican’s document on the New Age, “Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life” (2003) mentions kinesiology, but only as one of a number of forms of treatment advertised in New Age literature: “Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage…” (2.2.3). The Vatican document does not pass judgment on these forms of treatment, limiting itself merely to mentioning them.

I personally have met several people who say that kinesiology has helped them significantly in dealing with various medical issues. One said that the kinesiologist was a Catholic who actually prayed during the session.

All in all, it would seem that there is no moral objection to kinesiology. Whether it actually works, or works for all people, would be another matter.

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