Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
This advice should be read in conjunction with the entry on Health: Therapies (General)
What is kinesiology?
Kinesiology is a non-invasive complementary therapy based on the theory that manual muscle testing can provide information about imbalances and stresses in the body. In response to this information, a kinesiologist may then offer a wide range of methods - including, but not limited to, massaging specific points, providing suggestions such as nutritional supplements, relaxation techniques, lifestyle changes and flower essences - intended to bring the body ‘back into balance’.
What claims are likely to be problematic?
The ASA and CAP have not yet considered any evidence in support of any particular efficacy claims for kinesiology. As such, there are currently no ‘accepted’ claims and therefore any direct or implied efficacy claims, including to diagnose or treat any medical conditions or symptoms, should be avoided unless the marketer holds a robust body of evidence to support their claims and can provide this to the ASA in the event of a complaint (Rule 12.1).
What claims are likely to be acceptable?
Marketers may refer to the relaxing, non-invasive nature of the therapy, improving the sense of well-being and the gentle touch of the therapist. Impressionistic and sensory claims such as “encourages a sense of well-being” are also likely to be acceptable without a need to produce further evidence.
What about conditions for which medical supervision should be sought?
Unless the diagnosis and treatment are carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional, claims to offer treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought are likely to be considered to discourage essential treatment (Rule 12.2).
Subsequently, practitioners of kinesiology should avoid making reference to the diagnosis or treatment of serious medical conditions.
What about kinesiology taping?
Similarly named but unrelated to the therapy, kinesiology taping or ‘kinesio taping’, often performed by physiotherapists, is based on the theory that slightly lifting the skin away from the muscle will aid healing and support lymphatic and muscle systems.
In 2012, the ASA ruled against claims that kinesio taping could assist with medical conditions including lymphoedema, sports injuries, tension headaches, whiplash, sciatica, and post-operative/traumatic oedema because although the marketer submitted a significant amount of evidence, that evidence was not considered to be sufficiently robust to support the treatment claims being made (LimbVolume Ltd, 11 July 2012). Marketers are therefore advised to avoid making such efficacy claims unless they hold a robust body of evidence to support them.