For 10 years, Karly Abel, 26, struggled with persistent migraines, severe digestive issues, constant fatigue, hormonal imbalances, acne and general aches and pains. She was only 14 when she started seeking treatment. After trying countless doctors, specialists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists, medications, lifestyle changes and more, Abel was exhausted.
“At this point, you name it, I have absolutely 100 percent tried it. They couldn’t find anything,” Abel said. “I wanted relief. I wanted to feel amazing like I knew I could.”
Finally, Abel was introduced to applied kinesiology and within three months, she “had her life back,” she said.
“After 10 years of chaos, I felt like me again,” she said. “My headaches disappeared, my skin cleared up, no more digestive issues, my hormones began to balance, and I was blown away.”
According to the International College of Applied Kinesiology, AK is a gentle chiropractic technique developed in the 1960s by Dr. George Goodheart of Michigan.
It uses manual muscle testing — which involves the chiropractor pushing on a muscle and having the patient place their finger or hand in a certain spot to stimulate nerve receptors — and other diagnostic procedures to evaluate structural, chemical and mental aspects of health, which may reveal “weaknesses” that may indicate related issues in organs, glands or other tissues.
Further testing will determine where to focus treatment to return the body to normal function.
Treatment is gentle and non-invasive and can include joint manipulation or mobilization, myofascial therapy, low force cranial and chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture meridian therapy, nutrition, dietary management and other holistic approaches to address any imbalances in the body.
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Abel likened AK treatment to “unkinking” a kinked hose. When a hose is kinked, water doesn’t properly flow through, just like when there is a kink somewhere in your body, it affects many aspects of your health.
“Sometimes there are little kinks or miscommunications happening in our body and that’s where symptoms happen,” she said. “Treatment assesses where the brain isn’t communicating well with the body and gets things communicating as they should.”
While searching for a solution to her own health issues, Abel was volunteering at St. Luke’s Hospital and studying biology and chemistry at Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids on a premedical track — she’d always hoped to be a doctor, maybe even a brain surgeon, she said.
But after discovering AK and other holistic therapies, Abel pursued a career as a chiropractor. She earned her Doctor of Chriopractic degree from Palmer College in Davenport in 2016 and started her practice at Illuminations Healing Center the same year, where she has since offered low force AK therapies.
“I wanted to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western medicine,” Abel said. “AK fell into my lap and changed my life. I had to share this low-force but super powerful technique with others.”
Unlike traditional chiropractors, Abel does not offer “crack and whack” services, she said. Instead, adjustments use different low-force “hand modes, acupuncture points, the body’s breath and natural healing abilities,” she explained.
Abel has helped many people with digestive issues, hormonal imbalances and persistent pain.
Tara Mosset, a massage therapist in Cedar Rapids, has been seeing Abel for five weeks to treat headaches she said she’s had “since (she) can remember” that always worsened with her menstrual cycle.
“I’ve been to multiple chiropractors, and it would always initially help but also cause pain,” she said. “The headaches would go away for maybe two weeks and then creep back.”
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At first, Mosset was hesitant about such a light adjustment, wondering how it could possibly work. But it did. Since starting treatment, her headaches have gone away and her menstrual cycle has gotten shorter and overall less painful.
“It proves itself,” Mosset said.
“Every day there’s a testimonial here,” Abel said. “We’re growing very quickly because of everyone having remarkable results.”
Dr. Douglas Berry, a chiropractor in Hiawatha, has been a practicing chiropractor for nearly 30 years, but offering AK for the last 10.
“I was seeing conditions I couldn’t address with the other techniques I was using,” he said. “AK offered a diagnostic protocol that was a little more specific and allowed me to dig into other parts of the human condition.”
And, he added, his patients are “getting better results than we ever had before because we’re looking at why a joint keeps being a problem” and solving the issue long-term.
Berry treats his patients in a variety of ways, from more gentle approaches like respiratory adjustments to “old-fashioned” diversified adjustments, he said.
“If they like to hear their bones go crunch, we can do that, but other folks would rather walk on glass than hear their bones crunch,” he said, adding that all methods are “equally successful and effective” depending on circumstances and patient preference.
“It’s not a cure all, but another way to assess the body,” Abel said of AK. “There’s a place for everything, so it just comes down to personal preference, but it’s doing so much more than typical chiropractic work.”
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