When you first experience P-DTR, it may remind you a little of acupuncture (without the needles). If you've ever been to a doctor for some kind of muscle weakness, it may remind you of the methods the doctor used to examine you (it's definitely related). You may often feel as if you're being treated like an iPhone (also related). It may sometimes seem like we're doing "tapping", or "EFT" (possibly related). Some people say it feels like a kind of energy work (not exactly). There may also seem to be a dash of flamenco (no, silly!).
One night falling asleep after class, I had the image that the roof of my skull had become the ceiling of a planetarium (related).
I just wanted to introduce P-DTR by talking about one of its key concepts. As usual with manual therapy, we don't know for sure what's going on. But here's P-DTR's best guess.
P-DTR encourages us to look not only at the role of the brain, bone, muscle, ligament, and fascia, but also at the exact kind of receptor involved in your discomfort. When a therapist starts learning P-DTR, they just add receptors to the list of things they're thinking about.
As a P-DTR client, you'll feel the therapist cycling through a wide range of stimuli to find the receptors that seem to be playing a role in your discomfort.
A sensory receptor is the thing at the end of the nerve that processes input from the environment. We have different sensory receptors for different kinds of input---that's why our body is able to feel heat, cold, vibration, pressure, stretch, the pain of a pinprick, etc. The body is very finely tuned to distinguish between inputs---if a bee lands on your shoulder, the body needs to be able to distinguish between your shirt and the new visitor.
You all may have heard me talk about NKT. NKT and P-DTR are very closely related. (In fact, it's a good idea to take NKT before you take P-DTR.) In NKT we learn to test the kinds of connective tissue (muscle, ligament, fascia, etc.) and the kinds of movement that are compensating for each other. In P-DTR we get more specific still, by testing which receptors are doing the compensating.
You may still have adhesions or other "hardware problems"; sensory receptors are just one component. (There's more to P-DTR than the sensory receptors, but most of the basic series is about them.)
When a massage therapist cycles through a number of techniques to figure out which one is going to "release" a particular muscle, the reason one kind of release works when another doesn't may be because of the different kinds of receptor problems in the muscle.
Interestingly, this focus on receptors---which has been around in the chiropractic profession for a long time---has taken hold of the manual therapy community in recent years. There's been a great deal of discussion about how we all need to understand how important the brain and the nervous system are to the way manual therapy works.
Well, P-DTR and NKT are already on it, in what seems to their practitioners to be a very thoughtful way, and one of the things that is so captivating about these techniques is that they just say a giant YES. Yes, here's why vibration and the TENS sometimes work. Yes, here's why some people prefer ice and some heat. Yes, here's why deep pressure and even pain sometimes works. Yes, here's why some people want deep work in one area but can barely stand touch in another. Yes, here's why the site of your pain may have a tendency to feel cold....or hot...or ticklish....or itchy. Yes, here's why some people respond very well to gentle massage. And here's when they might not.
A very happy side effect of these techniques is that they make room for our individual experiences. You don't have to feel strange, or bizarre, or mistrustful of your own impressions because whenever your neck hurts your ankle hurts, or because you're the only person you know who hates deep massage, or because one of your feet gets colder than the other, or because wearing hats gives you a headache. There are good, often simple possible reasons for strange sounding things. In other words: Yes!