The General Adaptation Syndrome and Muscle Testing


The General Adaptation Syndrome was first described by Hans Selye as the three distinct stages that any organism goes through when experiencing stress. Selye explained his choice of terminology as follows: “I call this syndrome general because it is produced only by agents which have a general effect upon large portions of the body. I call it adaptive because it stimulates defense…. I call it a syndrome because its individual manifestations are coordinated and even partly dependent upon each other.” He defined these as the alarm, resistance and exhaustion phases. We can see the way that this works with muscle testing by examining the way that a muscle responds to a specific stress.

Often in a Touch for Health class, we have someone think about a stressful situation while checking an indicator muscle as a way of determining whether or not the body will respond to an emotional stress. When we do this as a precheck, we expect that the previously balanced muscle will immediately go into under-facilitation, becoming weak. This coorelates with Selye’s first stage of stress – an ‘alarm’ response. In the alarm stage, we immediately go into a dip as our body grapples with the new stressor. Soon however, our body adapts and begins to compensate for the new stress and we enter the second phase which is ‘resistance’ and can also be referred to as a balanced-imbalance. The individual is managing to cope, but it is taking more energy to do so than is optimal as they have to go into a compensation pattern. In muscle testing, we often see this as a stressed, over-facilitated muscle – something that is incapable of relaxing properly. It can look like it is fine when we simply run through basic muscle-testing protocols, because it is compensating, but looking a little deeper tells a different story. When the compensation has gone on over a long period of time, eventually the body can no longer keep it up. At this point, it goes into the third stage ‘exhaustion’. Here we see the muscle go back into an under-facilitated state, but it is more dangerous this time. The body no longer has back up reserves that it can draw from and is falling apart.

The best example I have for this is what happens when a family member is in the hospital for an extended period of time. At first, everyone panics and runs to their side in a typical alarm reaction. Very quickly though, the hospital becomes the ‘new normal’. It exists in a state of balanced/imbalance as the family takes turns bringing things, dealing with doctors, exchanging news, etc. This compensation can go on for quite a long time, until eventually, the strain of the situation becomes too much, the ‘exhaustion’ phase.

“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.”

Hans Selye (1907-1982)

The GAS is one of the reasons why, in a Touch for Health Wheel or 5-Element balance where you are charting a pattern of over and under-energies, if a muscle both unlocks and shows an indicator change when you touch the alarm points, it is counted as a stress. It means that the stress in that particular area is so great that compensation patterns are beginning to become difficult to maintain and it is slipping towards the third stage of stress.

The real problem here of course is that we do not experience stress in our lives in one area at a time. It’s not like we get to recover from one before the next stress comes along – instead, we are often in all three stages, dealing with many different stressors, from the physical to the mental and emotional. If you have several systems that have been in the resistance phase and heavily compensated for a long period of time, it doesn’t take much more to push them into the final stage. We sometimes call this, “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. You hear people say, “He was never sick a day in his life!” describing someone who has suddenly died of a heart attack, but what is more likely true is that he had many systems highly compensated and the heart was not able to take the last bit of stress.

Knowledge of the GAS allows us to take our muscle testing a little deeper. When you find stress in a specific meridian/organ/tissue, etc. you can challenge further to see what stage the stress is in. This could be as simple as offering a verbal challenge, or if you use a modality like SIPS (Stress Indicator Point System), you could use light and deep touch on the point to see which gives you an indicator change. If you are familiar with Powers of Stress from Applied Physiology, this is another way of gauging just how much stress the system is under. All of these are ways of making sure that we get to the root of the matter and help to reestablish balance in the body on the deepest level.

GEMS for Touch For Health practitioners

(The following post was written by GEMS Instructor Denise Cambiotti for the CanASK December Newsletter and is posted here with her permission.)

Hi CanASK students and practitioners. I just wanted to send a quick note into the office to rave a little bit about my newfound fascination about the GEMS program created by Alexis Costello.

This one day workshop is meant to help a serious student with a Touch for Health level 4 background figure out how to work best with what they know.

It can sometimes be quite daunting figuring out which TFH technique to perform when you’re starting out of the gate freshly minted. It can also be slightly boring sticking to the techniques you know best if you’ve been performing TFH for a while.
How do you give a really good Balance session that flows effortlessly and how do you choose which of the TFH techniques you have learned needs to be applied? Why, when you have muscle testing skills, you ‘ask the body’ of course!

What does the term GEMS represent?
G – Hopefully by TFH 4 you understand the remarkable capacity we have working with a client originated GOAL. In GEMS we can also allow the body to direct a priority goal quite effortlessly.
E – There is a wide collection of knowledge over several thousands of years based on the ELEMENTS of the acupuncture system. Alexis has collected stresses related to various elements and also organized TFH corrections categorized by element. The organization structure is easy to navigate and allows the body to reveal how many of these stresses to pull into a session, and then exactly which correction(s) to apply for that person to receive the best results.
M – Students are introduced to basic Finger MODES that hone in on whether to explore and work at a Structural, Chemistry, Emotional, or Electrical level. Working with just these four modes offers hundreds of possibilities.
S – When you’re working with modes, you have to have a way of asking the body to really pay attention to the information you are collecting. There is a term called “STACKing” which allows the practitioner to record all relevant information.

Even though I have taken nearly 2500 hours of training in numerous kinesiology modalities, I have been truly impressed every single time I have run a GEMS session. The program allows me to offer anything else I know but it also allows me to ‘keep things simple’. The client’s muscle responses tell me whether or not I need to explore wider, or dig in a little deeper every step of the way.
I have run numerous sessions with the intention to stay in “Touch-for-Health-Land” and keep to only the material offered in the slim manual that comes with the workshop. My experience doing this has shown that I can keep things flowing very organically and keep pulling up extremely relevant information for the client until no more details show, then we offer a Balancing technique chosen by the client’s body (via muscle testing and using the Modes).
In every GEMS session I’ve offered so far, there is something new I have learned or re-appreciated about the TFH system. That is really saying something because I’ve been teaching the modality for 16 years!

I invite you to find an instructor near you and take this class soon. It is sure to lend an ease and elegance for beginners and certainly helps bridge a learning gap related to finger modes and stacking if you would like to later explore other specialized kinesiology workshops such as SIPS or LEAP.
Please go to: for more information.

Denise is teaching the one day GEMS Flow class for graduates of TFH 4 on February 4th, 2017.
GEMS Business is another one day class to help new practitioners figure out how to set up a clinic and run a business. It follows on February 5th, 2017. Both workshops will run in Coquitlam, BC.   (604) 936-5463

How to get into Specialized Kinesiology

I often have clients ask me how they can get into this line of work. After all, it is pretty amazing; you get to meet great people and work with energy while helping others and yourself. While there are many paths to a career in SK, the one that I have documented for you in the handy infograph below is one of the easiest and most direct roots.

Finding your way to Specialized Kinesiology bliss.
Finding your way to Specialized Kinesiology bliss.


You begin with Touch for Health, which is a prerequisite for many of the other classes you will find. It will teach you strong muscle testing and correction skills, get you familiar with energy meridians and help you become comfortable working on people. When you’re finished with level four, take GEMS. Yes, this is biased information, but I came up with this system for a reason! That gives you enough that you can start working on people, but I also recommend starting to take some higher level SK classes, a few of which I mention here. A more complete list can be found on one of the Association websites (ours for Canada is You can stick with one of these courses, or take entry levels of a few different ones to see what you like.

Still unsure with how to get there from here? Or do you have a different path you would like to advocate? Share it here!

We’re all in this together.