Thursday Thoughts: Tone, Tightness, and the Chinese Finger Trap | Modern Manual Therapy Blog

Thursday Thoughts: Tone, Tightness, and the Chinese Finger Trap


One of the recent NOI posts shared a video of a professor using the chinese finger trap as an analogy for not fighting the pain, and easing into it, to get out of the trap you're stuck in.

I thought that was a great analogy and am going to buy a few of these and give them to patients in case they haven't ever tried one. (side note, is it ok to still call these things Chinese finger traps?)

Let's review some of the education I use for Modern Manual Therapy
  • a more effective reset to the CNS is a novel, non-threatening one
  • "stretching" a perception of tightness often does not work as well as slacking it
    • slacking the tissues with high tone or under threat is novel
    • plus, when there is already high tone in an area, it's like trying to pull a chinese finger trap apart and expecting it to loosen, it only further tightens the trap!
Patient's with unilateral hip, lumbar, or cervical, upper trap pain/perceptions of tightness are often "stretching away." They may do this frequently throughout the day for days/months/years, with little to no real change. They are not attaining end range in the ipsilateral side of pain and often have a loss of ability to load the ipsilateral side. This does not convince the CNS to give a green light to that area and vigilance remains high. Slacking the area passively as a technique, as in Positional Inhibition techniques, then repeatedly loading the threat free range often works for rapid relief and restoration of mobility and motor control.

Here are a few recent example vids of Positional Inhibition

Positional Inhibition of Obliques



Positional Inhibition of Hip Flexors with EDGE Mobility Band


For Positional Inhibition videos for masseter, upper trap, temporalis, quadratus lumborum, and hip flexors check out Modern Manual Therapy!


Interested in live cases where I apply this approach and integrate it with pain science, manual therapy, repeated motions, IASTM, with emphasis on patient education? Check out Modern Manual Therapy!

Keeping it Eclectic...






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