Rodney McBride

The Positive Support Reaction in Bodywork

The Positive Support Reaction in Bodywork 

In my Blog The Positive Support Reaction in Strength Training (see Febuary 3rd) I talked about how the positive support reaction is a natural reflex located on the bottom of the feet and how it can be exploited to generate more strength during standing exercises at the gym. In this blog I will talk about how to correct this reflex if for some reason it becomes dysfunctional. 

The great thing about manual muscle testing is that you can test/check just about anything in relation to the body. This includes reflexes such as the positive support reaction and many other reflexes for that matter. Reflexes are easy to test/check because they have predictable results. If after stimulating a reflex doesn't give you the outcome you are expecting you know that it is dysfunctional. 

You can test the functionality of the positive support reaction by manually spreading apart the foot while lying face up on a treatment table. This spreading challenge is similar to the spreading action of the foot/toes in weight bearing/gate which will activate the reflex. Immediately muscle test the extensor muscles (glutes, hamstrings, etc.) on the back side of the body. These muscles should facilitate (turn on). If they do facilitate you have proper function of the reflex. If these muscles don't facilitate but actually inhibit (turn off) you have an improper function of the reflex. 
Most dysfunctions of this reflex are due to subluxations (misalignment) of the bones and/or improper proprioception (nerve communication) in the foot. You can get a chiropractic adjustment of the foot if need be. I use joint mobilization (moving the individual bones against each other) to correct the subluxations and Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex (PDTR) which is a bodywork tool to correct the proprioception. Rechallenge then retest. It takes minutes to fix. 

Another way to check the validity of the positive support reaction is to test its counter reflex. If you sqeeze together the foot/toes the flexor muscles on the front side of the body should facilitate (turn on) and the extensor muscles on the back side of the body should inhibit (turn off). Notice how this is the opposite reaction to the first one mentioned. A dysfunction in this counter reflex is also due to subluxations of the bones and improper proprioception in the foot. Treat the same way. Rechallenge then retest and you're done. 

By the way avoid wearing tight shoes as this can overly encourage this counter reflex and may lead to eventual foot/ankle/knee/hip/back/neck problems because of improper posterior chain support. A good shoe should have proper support, allow you to feel the ground and should never be tight around the feet. 

I always check these reflexes at the end whenever I am working on a clients feet. They are without exception working continually during gate and must be corrected if need be. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for describing your good work with positive support reflexes.


You must be logged into Gmail (or other from the list below) to post. Otherwise, please email Rodney McBride directly at with any questions.