The Calibrate Approach to Muscle and Joint Pain

The Calibrate approach

How we gain a deeper understanding of your muscle and joint pain

When you first experience muscle testing as a form of assessment it can seem a bit like magic or witchcraft from myths and fairy stories.

You are asked to perform a simple muscle test. Moving a limb in a specific direction against the therapists resistance.

Sports massage and soft tissue therapy - Restore movement health and pain clinic Shrewsbury
Muscle testing deep spinal muscles


You find you simply can not engage the muscle or even organise the movement. Why?

This muscle or movement is often labelled as ‘weak’ although this is not strictly true as will be highlighted later.

The same action tested in the opposite direction however is super strong. You are able to contract and resist so well in-fact that you are virtually passing the test before its even begun!


Lets look at the so called ‘weak’ muscle:

Your therapist now repeats the test but asks you to hold on to a specific part of your body with your hand, usually somewhere that seems unrelated, and suddenly you have full strength. Miraculous? Magic trick? Not really.

What the heck just happened??!
What the heck just happened??!


Lets try to explain

There have been many explanations.  Bio-energetics, ‘energy’ flow, re-connecting bio-electrical circuits etc…

Energy flow may not be the answer!
Bioenergetics may be relevant but there are simpler explanations

There is probably some truth in all explanations but also quite a bit of guess work. The god of the gaps can all too often rear his mystical head with unsatisfactory and unscientific answers.

Perhaps the best theory, one that is currently most verifiable through neuroscience and our collective clinical practice in the applied neurology disciplines, is more logical and understandable.


Sensory feedback and proprioception

It does in-fact involve connecting a kind of circuit. Only its more likely a proprioceptive or sensory circuit involving our ‘neurological constants’.

Proprioception: The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium. Even if a person is blindfolded, he or she knows through proprioception if an arm is above the head or hanging by the side of the body. 

The neurological constants are explained in neurophysiology as a continuous flow of sensory data from our muscles, joints, ligaments, fascias, ear canals and breathing mechanics. This constant feedback to the cerebellum from the body’s tissues never switches off.

Neurological constants represent an unending exchange or 'flow' of information.
Neurological constants represent an unending exchange or ‘flow’ of information.

When you contact or hold a structure hypothesised by your therapist to be locked into a negative feedback loop with another structure or movement that currently tests weak you are performing what we call a therapy localisation or ‘TL’.


UN-magical restrengthening with TL

If the weak structure now strengthens you have confirmed that there is a relationship between the two structures. We do not know what that relationship is yet. This can now be investigated further.

In all likelihood, you have highlighted through touch a muscle, joint or ligament that is dysfunctional in its relationship to other structures. The sensory awareness you have created with that touch has been connected with the cerebellum pathways required to fire and activate another structure in response or organise a required movement. 


solving the puzzle one piece at a time
solving the puzzle one piece at a time


Its all in your head!

You are quite literally connecting circuits in the brain. Influencing the neurological constants – through touch, action or objective. Neurons that fire together wire together.

With a more favorable pathway to optimal function highlighted within the cerebellum, a weak muscle can miraculously come strong so long as the ‘TL’ is still in place.

The muscle was never weak, just having some difficulty activating under certain circumstances or in certain relationships.

Its all in your head! Or at least in your cerebellum!
Its all in your head! Or at least in your cerebellum!



Playing Sherlock Holmes

Your therapists job is to collect data, follow clues, then form a hypothesis
Your therapists job is to collect data, follow clues, then form a hypothesis.



The ability to read these relationships allows your therapist to delve more deeply into the nature of those adaptations and what drives them. In doing so we can better ascertain what structure might represent a primary threat to normal motor control and muscle firing patterns and decide on the best way to influence this picture for the better.

Helping to restore more optimal patterns or learn new ones to drive you out of compensated movement and into effortless reflexive movement.


Relationships are more important than structures

Since the brain stores information about relationships and connections rather than individual body parts it will frequently be a relationship not a single structure that is at fault.

Neurons that fire together wire together
Neurons that fire together wire together


By using a global response such as a muscle test to assess the response of the body against a particular stimulus such as a therapy localisation, joint stimulation, scar agitation, eye or jaw position etc… we can build up a clearer picture as to the relationships that cause the body to be locked into compensation and consequently use this same data to ‘re-calibrate’ the reflexes.

The calibrate approach measures global responses to local stimuli…

Put simply, can I still do this movement after that other thing just happened?!

For more information on the bio-electrical signaling theories of therapy localisation it would be worth searching Hermann’s demarcation or “the current or injury” in conjunction with our evolution within the Schumann Resonance. That’s all a bit hardcore for this brief article.


I Hope that helps to take the magic out of what should be a very logical, scientific and objective assessment method of the motor system.

For more information, this video beautifully illustrates the amazing feedback system that is the human organism and the principle approach of our working methods.

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