Muscle testing is the assessment of the flexibility, elasticity, strength and reflex power of muscles. Muscle testing is primarily used in assessment, but can be used clinically as a treatment as well.
As a consequence of discomfort, pain, stiffness or injury, muscle function may be disrupted. This is due to a constellation of physical, physiological, neurological and chemical factors that are used by the body to protect itself from further injury and to minimise the irritation of a damaged or unstable part of its anatomy. Muscle testing is used to assess the nature, extent, and cause of this protective response and to use the information gathered from that assessment to determine the best course of care.
Muscle Testing can assess the strength, flexibility, and power of muscles, as well as many other factors. At its most simple level, assessment of muscle strength is performed by having the client move a limb or a part of a limb while the therapist provides resistance. This may reproduce pain within the muscle or joint, may reveal strength or coordination deficits, or may indicate pathology elsewhere in the body. At more complex levels, muscle testing can be performed with electrode-interpretation analysis of muscle action as well as using complicated resisting devices called dynamometers.
Muscle Testing in its simplest form is commonly used to investigate the function of muscles, with or without resistance. You can do this yourself at home - every time you lift a heavy object with your arms or stand up from a chair onto your feet, you are performing a rudimentary muscle test. In clinic, the tests carried out are much more specific, and are done within a framework of clinical reasoning that draws on anatomical knowledge as well as your own description of the problem.
If you feel stiff, sore or uncomfortable, you can discuss muscle strength assessment with your therapist and explore its feasibility in clinic.