What is P-DTR (Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex), Muscle Testing, Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT), Polyvagal Theory

What is the P-DTR technique?
P-DTR® uses neural challenges specific to the involved receptors and muscle tests combined with proper stimulation of the deep tendon reflex to make immediate and lasting advances toward restored function.

The science behind P-DTR massage of sports injuries


P-DTR (Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex) is a manual therapy technique that focuses on the assessment and correction of dysfunctional movement patterns and muscle imbalances. It is commonly used in the treatment of sports injuries to restore proper neuromuscular function and enhance athletic performance. P-DTR utilizes the understanding of the nervous system’s role in controlling movement and proprioception (the sense of body position and movement).

The science behind P-DTR is rooted in the concept that the body’s movements are controlled by the nervous system, which relies on accurate sensory information to coordinate and execute precise motor patterns. Injuries or dysfunctions can disrupt this sensory-motor loop, leading to pain, altered movement patterns, and reduced performance.

P-DTR practitioners aim to identify and address the specific dysfunctional pathways within the nervous system that contribute to the injury. They achieve this by assessing the body’s reflexes, which are involuntary responses controlled by the nervous system. By evaluating the deep tendon reflexes and observing the body’s responses to specific sensory inputs, practitioners can identify areas of the nervous system that are not functioning optimally.

During a P-DTR session, the practitioner applies various manual techniques, including light touch, joint mobilization, and muscle stimulation, to stimulate specific receptors in the skin, muscles, tendons, and joints. These receptors transmit information to the central nervous system, which processes and integrates the signals to produce a coordinated response.

The goal of P-DTR is to reset or recalibrate faulty sensory information and restore normal movement patterns. By providing precise sensory input to the nervous system, the therapy aims to correct aberrant reflexes and re-establish proper neuromuscular control.

For example, in the case of a sports injury, let’s say a runner has developed knee pain due to a dysfunction in the sensory-motor loop. The P-DTR practitioner would assess the reflexes associated with the knee joint and surrounding muscles. They may identify specific areas of overactive or underactive reflexes that are contributing to the pain and altered movement patterns.

Using P-DTR techniques, the practitioner would then apply manual input to the relevant areas, such as gentle touch or muscle activation, to stimulate the appropriate receptors and reset the dysfunctional reflexes. This process helps the nervous system relearn and integrate accurate sensory information, leading to improved movement control, reduced pain, and enhanced performance.

It’s important to note that P-DTR is a specialized technique that requires extensive training and expertise to perform accurately. It is typically practiced by trained healthcare professionals, such as chiropractors, physical therapists, or osteopaths, who have undergone specific P-DTR certification.

While there is anecdotal evidence supporting the effectiveness of P-DTR in treating sports injuries, it is worth mentioning that scientific research on P-DTR is limited. More studies are needed to establish its efficacy and understand the underlying mechanisms of action. As with any therapeutic approach, it is advisable to consult with a qualified professional before pursuing P-DTR or any other treatment modality for sports injuries.

P-DTR Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex Massage


The science behind muscle testing



Muscle testing, also known as applied kinesiology or manual muscle testing, is a technique used in alternative medicine and holistic therapies to assess the functional status of muscles and the overall well-being of an individual. It is based on the belief that the body’s muscles can provide valuable information about a person’s physical, emotional, and energetic state.

The underlying principle of muscle testing is that muscles are connected to the body’s energy meridians or pathways. According to traditional Chinese medicine, these meridians are channels through which vital energy, known as Qi (pronounced “chee”), flows. Any disruption or imbalance in the flow of Qi is believed to result in various health problems.


The process of muscle testing usually involves a practitioner applying gentle pressure to specific muscles while the patient resists that pressure. The muscle being tested is typically isolated and positioned in a way that allows for clear assessment. The response of the muscle is then observed, and its strength or weakness is evaluated.

There are two main types of muscle testing: indicator muscle testing and challenge muscle testing.

  1. Indicator Muscle Testing: In this method, a particular muscle is designated as an “indicator” muscle, often the arm or leg muscles. The practitioner applies pressure and observes the response. If the muscle remains strong and resists the pressure, it is considered an indicator of balance and good energy flow. If the muscle weakens and cannot resist the pressure, it suggests an imbalance or disruption in the energy flow.

  2. Challenge Muscle Testing: Challenge testing involves applying external factors or stimuli to the body while performing muscle testing. These stimuli can include substances, emotions, thoughts, or environmental factors. The response of the muscle to these challenges is evaluated to gain insights into the body’s response and potential imbalances. ( note: David R Hawkins used this technique )

The scientific explanation for muscle testing is a matter of debate and controversy. While some practitioners and proponents claim that muscle testing provides an objective assessment of the body’s energy flow and overall health, the scientific community generally regards it as lacking empirical evidence and being susceptible to various biases and subjective interpretations.

From a physiological standpoint, it is proposed that muscle testing may involve the neuro-muscular system and the body’s proprioceptive responses. Proprioception refers to the body’s ability to sense its position, movement, and spatial orientation. It involves specialized sensors in the muscles, tendons, and joints that provide feedback to the central nervous system.

The pressure applied during muscle testing could potentially stimulate or inhibit the proprioceptive receptors in the muscles, influencing the muscular response. This could explain the observed variations in muscle strength during testing. However, the exact mechanisms and validity of these responses in relation to assessing energetic imbalances or health conditions remain a topic of ongoing research and scientific scrutiny.


An example of muscle testing is the left calf muscle

Here’s a detailed example of muscle testing the left calf muscle:

  1. Preparation: The practitioner and the person being tested should find a comfortable and quiet environment for the muscle testing. The person being tested should remove any restrictive clothing or footwear that might interfere with the muscle assessment.

  2. Positioning: The person being tested stands barefoot with their feet hip-width apart. The left calf muscle is the focus of the assessment in this example.

  3. Indicator Muscle Selection: An indicator muscle is chosen, usually an arm muscle, to assess the person’s baseline strength. The deltoid muscle or the muscles around the shoulder joint are commonly used as indicator muscles. The practitioner asks the person to extend their left arm straight out to the side at shoulder level.

  4. Baseline Assessment: The practitioner applies gentle pressure on the extended left arm while instructing the person to resist the pressure and maintain their arm position. The resistance and strength of the deltoid muscle are observed. If the muscle remains strong and can resist pressure, it indicates a baseline strength and balance.

  5. Left Calf Muscle Testing: The focus now shifts to the left calf muscle. The person being tested stands in the same position with their left leg slightly bent and the foot firmly planted on the ground.

  6. Isolation of the Left Calf Muscle: The practitioner isolates the left calf muscle by placing their hand on the muscle’s belly or just above the ankle. This helps to stabilize the leg and allows for clearer muscle assessment.

  7. Application of Pressure: The practitioner applies gentle downward pressure on the left calf muscle while instructing the person to resist the pressure and maintain their leg position. The resistance and strength of the left calf muscle are observed.

  8. Muscle Response: If the left calf muscle remains strong and can resist the pressure applied by the practitioner, it suggests balance, good energy flow, and normal function. However, if the muscle weakens or cannot maintain resistance, it may indicate an imbalance, energetic disruption, or potential issues related to the left calf muscle or its associated meridians.

  9. Interpretation: The muscle response observed during the testing provides information that the practitioner may interpret within the context of their specific methodology or belief system. They may consider factors such as the person’s overall health, emotional state, specific symptoms, or relevant external challenges.

It’s important to reiterate that the scientific validity of muscle testing is a topic of debate, and the interpretation of the muscle response can vary among practitioners. As with any alternative therapy, it is advisable to approach muscle testing with critical thinking and consult with qualified healthcare professionals for comprehensive medical assessments and treatments.



Neurokinetic Therapy (NKT) is a therapeutic approach that combines elements of manual therapy, functional movement assessment, and motor control theory to address muscular imbalances and movement dysfunctions. It is a systematic approach that aims to identify and correct dysfunctional movement patterns by addressing the underlying neurologic control of movement.

Here’s a breakdown of the science behind Neurokinetic Therapy:

  1. Motor Control Theory: Motor control refers to the brain’s ability to coordinate and regulate movement. Neurokinetic Therapy is based on the understanding that movement patterns are controlled by the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). The brain sends signals to muscles, which contract and create movement. However, when injuries or repetitive stress occur, the brain may develop compensatory movement patterns to protect the injured area. These compensations can lead to imbalances and dysfunctional movement patterns.

  2. Neurokinetic Chain: The concept of the “neurokinetic chain” is central to NKT. It suggests that muscles and fascial connections work in chains or sequences to produce coordinated movement. When one muscle in the chain is weak or inhibited, another muscle compensates and becomes overactive. This imbalance disrupts the smooth functioning of the chain and can lead to pain or dysfunction.

  3. Muscle Testing: NKT practitioners use muscle testing to assess the function of individual muscles and identify imbalances within the neurokinetic chain. Muscle testing involves applying gentle pressure or resistance to specific muscles while the client performs specific movements. Weakness or inhibition in a muscle indicates a potential dysfunction or compensatory pattern.

  4. Corrective Techniques: Once imbalances or dysfunctional movement patterns are identified, NKT utilizes a range of corrective techniques. These techniques may include manual therapy, such as soft tissue manipulation, joint mobilization, or stretching, to address tight or overactive muscles. Additionally, the therapist may use specific exercises or movements to retrain the brain and restore proper muscle activation and coordination.

  5. Reprogramming Movement Patterns: NKT aims to reprogram the brain’s motor control by addressing dysfunctional movement patterns. By correcting imbalances and restoring proper muscle activation, NKT helps the brain relearn healthy movement patterns. This can lead to improved performance, reduced pain, and enhanced functional abilities.

It’s important to note that while Neurokinetic Therapy has gained popularity in some therapeutic and movement-based communities, the scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness is limited. More research is needed to validate the specific mechanisms and outcomes associated with NKT.



Polyvagal Theory is a neurophysiological framework developed by Dr. Stephen Porges that helps us understand the connection between our nervous system, social behavior, and emotional regulation. The theory highlights the role of the vagus nerve in regulating our physiological and emotional responses.

There are 12 cranial nerves in the body. They come in pairs and help link the brain with other areas of the body, such as the head, neck, and torso.

Some send sensory information, including details about smells, sights, tastes, and sounds, to the brain. These nerves have sensory functions. Other cranial nerves control the movement of various muscles and the function of certain glands. These are known as motor functions.

While some cranial nerves have either sensory or motor functions, others have both. The vagus nerve is such a nerve. The cranial nerves are classified using Roman numerals based on their location. The vagus nerve is also called cranial nerve X.

Explore the diagram below to see the location of the vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve that originates in the brainstem and extends throughout the body, influencing various organs and systems. According to Polyvagal Theory, the vagus nerve plays a crucial role in our body’s response to stress and our ability to engage in social interactions.

Polyvagal Theory proposes that the vagus nerve has evolved over time, leading to the development of three distinct neural circuits, each associated with a specific behavioral state. These states are referred to as the ventral vagal, sympathetic, and dorsal vagal states.

  1. Ventral Vagal State: This state is associated with feelings of safety and social engagement. When we are in this state, the vagus nerve activates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation, connection, and social engagement. Our facial expressions are open and inviting, and we are able to engage in positive social interactions.

  2. Sympathetic State: In situations where we perceive a threat or stress, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. This leads to the fight-or-flight response, characterized by increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and heightened arousal. In this state, the vagus nerve reduces its influence, inhibiting social engagement and promoting self-defense behaviors.

  3. Dorsal Vagal State: This state occurs when our nervous system perceives extreme danger or immobilization. The vagus nerve plays a role in shutting down physiological functions and conserving energy. This state is associated with behaviors such as freezing, dissociation, and feigning death.

Polyvagal Theory suggests that our nervous system responds to environmental cues, assessing the level of safety or threat, and subsequently activating the appropriate neural circuit. The theory also emphasizes the importance of neural regulation and the ability to shift between these states in response to changing environmental demands.

The implications of Polyvagal Theory extend to various fields such as psychology, psychiatry, trauma therapy, and social sciences. Understanding the underlying neurophysiology can help in treating conditions like anxiety, depression, trauma-related disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.

Research in Polyvagal Theory has provided valuable insights into the neurobiology of social behavior and emotional regulation. Studies have explored the association between vagal tone (a measure of vagus nerve activity) and various psychological and physiological factors. Additionally, research has examined how interventions such as mindfulness, meditation, and therapeutic approaches can positively influence the vagal tone and promote overall well-being.

It’s important to note that Polyvagal Theory is still a developing area of research, and further studies are needed to fully understand its intricacies and clinical applications. Nonetheless, it has already provided a valuable framework for exploring the connection between our nervous system, social interactions, and emotional well-being.

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