Manual Biofeedback
Helping the brain and body restore muscle balance.

Welcome to the Manual Biofeedback page. There are a variety of items here, including a bibliography, FAQ's, video of the Introduction to Manual Biofeedback, a photo gallery and more!

Manual biofeedback addresses muscle imbalance due to a wide range of problems. It can be used to treat athletic injuries, children and adults with muscle problems, and those with more serious brain and spinal cord injuries. This therapy helps restore muscle balance by strengthening weak muscles and relaxing tight ones. A unique combination of muscle testing and traditional biofeedback, manual biofeedback blends the best of both into an easy-to-use system not requiring equipment.
What is Manual Biofeedback?
Manual biofeedback addresses neuromuscular imbalance due to a wide range of problems. It can be used in children and adults of all ages who have problems from local muscle injuries to more serious brain and spinal cord injuries. This therapy helps restore muscle balance by strengthening weak muscles and relaxing tight ones. A unique combination of manual muscle testing and traditional biofeedback, manual biofeedback blends the best of both into an easy-to-use system without any equipment.

Stress Reduction!
One of the most powerful brain and body remedies I’ve ever used is called respiratory biofeedback. I developed this procedure, sometimes called the 5-Minute Power Break, by combining two powerful therapies: the first is manual biofeedback that helps muscles function better, and the second is neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback, which helps improve brain function.

You can perform it yourself as a quick, effective daily therapy to reduce stress, relax and improve overall health. Here are some of its significant health benefits:
• It can increase oxygen to the brain, potentially improving a variety of neurological imbalances. This is accomplished through more efficient breathing that brings more air into the lungs.
• It can increase the brain’s production of alpha waves. These brain waves can help reduce harmful stress hormones, balance the nervous system and promote relaxation — very important features for a healthier brain and body.
• Respiratory feedback can help restore and improve normal breathing. Improper breathing is often associated with brain and spinal cord injuries, and is sometimes a hidden problem even in relatively healthy people.
• It can improve the function of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. In addition to breathing, these muscles play a significant role in physical movement, improving posture and supporting the spine and pelvis.
• Because of its effect on the brain and nervous system, respiratory biofeedback can improve the function of other muscles in the body as well, and help reduce pain.

Click here for information on ordering the Manual Biofeedback DVD , now in 5 languages!
Manual Biofeedback Articles
Part 1
Introduction to Manual Biofeedback

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Part 2
Respiratory Biofeedback (5-Minute Power Break)

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Part 3
Demonstration of Manual Biofeedback

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Who Uses Manual Biofeedback?
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See Chapter 1: Introduction to
Manual Biofeedback.
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This is a 12+ minute video--some computers may take longer to load.
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What Others are Saying...
“What an amazing privilege it’s been to watch Phil’s latest therapeutic gem evolve—Manual Biofeedback! I first saw his clinical creativity emerge when we began working together with brain-injured children. In charge of developing an EMG biofeedback program, he kept saying, “We don’t need fancy equipment for this stuff to work.” Sure enough, he persisted and developed an incredibly simple and truly effective hands-on approach to correct every type of muscle imbalance. As an allopathic physician, I’ve successfully used Manual Biofeedback on patients of all kinds, with rapid results. This well-made DVD is so clear that both untrained and professionals alike will be able to immediately apply this powerful therapy.”
– Coralee Thompson, M.D.
International Medical Director, Family Hope Center

Comments . . .

"When I learned the 5-Minute Power Break (Respiratory Biofeedback) from Dr. Maffetone, I was having severe adrenal and thyroid dysfunction that resulted in weight gain, food allergies, irritability, and lack of energy, good sleep and concentration. I began doing a few minutes of Respiratory Biofeedback each night before bed. I noticed that within a few breaths I was more relaxed, my hands were warm, and I had an overall feeling of peace and well-being. It is now an integral part of my health program. A year later, with the help of a good diet, the right supplements, and regular aerobic exercise I am nearly as good as new!" -- Darci
Dr. Phil shows you how to perform manual biofeedback.
In addition to English, the DVD also contains
audio (not subtitles) in French, Spanish, Italian and German.

The Workbook is available for those without a good working knowlege of muscle testing.


Click here for order information.


The filming of Manual Biofeedback


Q: Who uses manual biofeedback?

A: Many people have learned to utilize manual biofeedback for various reasons. Doctors and other therapists employ it in their practice for evaluation and treatment. Athletic trainers and coaches use it in sports to prevent and correct injuries. A variety of lay people also use the basic forms of manual biofeedback. For example, mothers and fathers use simple manual biofeedback procedures to help their special needs children; those utilizing “touch for health” and other kinesiology procedures utilize manual biofeedback; and various types of students use it.

Q: What’s the history behind your development of manual biofeedback?

A: I was first exposed to biofeedback in the mid 1970’s. As students we measured the body’s response to various sensory and motor inputs. It was evident that even the most basic muscle stimulation/activity had a significant body-wide neurological impact. In the mid 1980’s, Dr. John Thie told me that he believed the assessment process of manual muscle testing had some therapeutic value – while he didn’t know exactly how, it further added to my interest in biofeedback. This was a decade after being introduced to manual muscle testing by Dr. George Goodheart, who had studied Kendall and McCreary’s classic textbook (“Muscles, testing and function,” Williams & Wilkins), and promoted the notion that muscle imbalance is a combination of primary muscle weakness (abnormal muscle inhibition) and tightness. Along the way I investigated and utilized dozens of clinical techniques that incorporate muscle testing, and began to see the therapeutic relationships of the muscle test itself, including its role in physical activity. I realized that the clinical use of most forms of manual muscle testing could be generally categorized as “biofeedback.”

I continued developing a variety of biofeedback approaches, from those utilizing muscle tests to those relying on other measurements such as heart rate; some of these are discussed in my textbook Complementary Sports Medicine (Human Kinetics 1999). Like new developments in any field, many individuals influenced my work. In addition to those noted above, Dr. Walter Schmitt provided important neurological information about a wide spectrum of muscle function; Dr. Gerry Leisman’s research on muscle testing helped bridge the gap between the clinical and scientific understanding; Dr. Coralee Thompson’s work on brain mapping and neurofeedback provided a definitive view of how the brain reacts to various sensory and motor inputs; Dr. Bernie Brucker’s work on muscle paralysis emphasized treatment of muscles with no perceived contraction; and many others in the clinical and scientific fields helped shape the development of much of my biofeedback work. Most importantly, seeing patients with a wide spectrum of disabilities and finding ways to more successfully treat the most difficult cases continued to improve clinical outcomes.

Of utmost importance is the scientific information we all continue to study, which plays a key role in understanding not only what we observe in clinical practice, but provides an impetus to continue asking important questions which must be answered through our own research and that of others.

Removing the technology and keeping biofeedback manual was an important step. The basic neurological features of EEG- and EMG-type biofeedback seemed relatively easy to understand, but the associated biofeedback equipment was not always necessary for a successful clinical outcome. In an effort to simplify a patient’s visit, and reduce health care costs, I began using these procedures manually, without the technology. The clinical outcomes remained as good but with much less time commitment. (One could also argue that focusing on technology issues during patient visits could distract the clinician’s focus.)

Q: If I already use muscle testing, how can manual biofeedback help me in private practice?

A: If you already use muscle testing, you can begin utilizing manual biofeedback immediately. This can help simplify your day-to-day treatment of patients. For the majority of those with mechanical problems – perhaps 90% or more of them – this may be the only hands-on therapy necessary, significantly reducing assessment and treatment time, and, as experience is showing, further improve clinical efficacy. Obviously, manual biofeedback will not replace the need to consider such lifestyle factors as nutrition, diet, exercise, and stress. And, in some cases, the use of other hands-on therapies may be necessary.

Q: How is manual biofeedback different from other techniques that use manual muscle testing?

A: Numerous issues make manual biofeedback unique:
- Manual biofeedback addresses the full spectrum of muscle function. This includes the wide range of muscle “weakness” (abnormal muscle inhibition), muscles with no detectable activity (zero contraction), and muscles with normal function. The last two categories are not commonly addressed by most hands-on therapies.
- Manual biofeedback uses muscle-testing procedures during both assessment and treatment, and incorporates a full range of a muscle’s function. Most muscle testing-based techniques evaluate a single test position for assessment purposes only.
- While most hands-on therapies incorporate a number of different systems (acupuncture, manipulation, various sensory reflexes, etc.) into their protocol, the successful use of manual biofeedback seems to reduce the need to implement these other procedures most of the time. In other words, the neurological impact of manual biofeedback as a primary therapy usually eliminates the need to treat other secondary factors.
- Manual biofeedback also specifically targets the brain (in ways similar to neurofeedback or EEG-type therapy). The therapeutic goals include improved alpha wave production (which can significantly improve overall body and brain health).
- An important part of manual biofeedback is the patient’s follow up physical activity at home – specifically incorporating more movement of the muscle and its related structures.

Q: What is the level of acceptance of manual biofeedback?

A: Both EMG- and EEG-type biofeedback are well-accepted therapeutic approaches shared by health care professionals with many different backgrounds. Biofeedback has gained credibility, in part, because the results are relatively easy to document (using EMG or EEG equipment, for example) and there is an accepted scientific rationale. Manual biofeedback can be documented with the same equipment and explained with the same rationale, and presumably, shares the same level of acceptance.

The question of acceptability is an important one. By the nature of the neurological mechanisms, almost all manual muscle testing-based therapies are a form of biofeedback. Health care organizations include hundreds of organizations promoting some form of manual muscle testing and biofeedback, which are very similar approaches. A single entity, under the general heading of “biofeedback,” may help resolve many issues from scientific documentation and treatment efficacy to insurance and liability issues, to regulatory factors. This can also help increase acceptance of these forms of biofeedback in the general health care and scientific community, and with consumers. One outcome is that more patients will receive better care.
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Dr. Philip Maffetone is an internationally recognized researcher, educator, clinician and author in the field of exercise, sports medicine, food and nutrition and biofeedback. He is the author of Complementary Sports Medicine (Human Kinetics, 2000), The Maffetone Method (McGraw-Hill), Fix Your Feet (Lyons Press), and many others, with books also published in German, Italian, Korean and Japanese. During his 30-year career, which included 20 years in private practice, Dr. Maffetone has been a respected pioneer in the field of complementary medicine, bringing the latest advances to healthcare professionals around the world. In 2003, he was presented with the prestigious Statuette award by the International Academy for Child Brain Development. Dr. Maffetone was named Coach of the Year in 1995 by Triathlete Magazine, and in 2000 was honored by Inside Triathlon magazine as one of the top 20 most influential people in endurance sports worldwide. Dr. Maffetone continues to lecture on diet, nutrition and stress management, and teaches biofeedback to health practitioners. He became a songwriter in 2003, working with some of music’s legends including Johnny Cash, Rick Rubin and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. His website combines his educational material along with his unique music:
© 2006-2015 Philip Maffetone