We don’t just train to escape…

Without training it is likely that you will violently struggle with your hostage-takers during the initial capture phase. This is commonly known by law enforcement agencies as ‘resisting arrest’. An increased use of force will be used to detain and restrain you if you persist to struggle.

Just a few seconds with handcuffs that have cinched too-tight is sufficient to appreciate the intense pain and discomfort they can inflict!

Being able to ‘adjust’ or ‘remove’ your restraints at a time of your choosing to minimise injury and improve your comfort during captivity cannot be overstated.

Why is this important?

Studies suggest that injury may occur in as many as 1 in 20 people taken into police custody; so even with formal training there is a risk that your restraints will be applied too-tight. Nerve damage can also be a product of one’s own movements/struggling (resisting arrest) as much as it can be from too-tight restraints.

Once a ‘safe controlled environment’ is reached your handcuffs will be removed or adjusted by the police (duty of care) and if required medical attention will be provided.

Duty of care.

There will be no such ‘duty of care’ applied by the hostage-takers. They have no moral or legal obligation to ensure the safety or well-being of others. Their acts or omissions may cause unnecessary pain and suffering during your captivity.

It is likely that hostage-takers will have little of or no training for applying restraints such as handcuffs, cable-ties, rope, or cord to the prisoner’s wrist; often they are applied too tight and this can cause nerve damage resulting in pain, numbness or abnormal touch sensations.


Typically, you will experience pain around the thumb while tight restraints are in place. The pain decreases when the restraints are removed, but there is residual altered or decreased sensation over the edge of the hand between the base of the thumb and the wrist. It can also extend to the back of the hand below the first two fingers (forefinger and middle finger), and/or the back of the thumb and the backs of those fingers. This is a description of the most common type of handcuff nerve injury, the bruising of a nerve called the ‘superficial radial nerve’. The reason this nerve is the one most frequently bruised is because of its vulnerable location as it crosses along the end of the radius, the thumb-side bone in the forearm.

Is it serious?

Fortunately, this ‘superficial radial’ nerve is purely a sensory nerve, meaning that it doesn’t control any muscles, it just picks up touch and temperature sensation. If the nerve is not re-injured, most of these cases clear up completely on their own.

What causes it?

The damage is thought to be from the direct compression, cramming the nerve against the adjacent bone. If restraints are kept on for hours, lack of circulation to the area may also injure the nerves by starving them of oxygen. In most cases, just the insulation around the nerve is damaged, which slows or blocks the conduction of the electrical nerve impulses and results in decreased or altered touch sensation.

When is it going to get better?

If the nerve is fine and the insulation is just damaged, the symptoms can clear up in as few as 3 weeks. If the nerve itself is bruised, then the nerve from that point on tends to die off and must regrow. Nerves grow at about a millimetre a day (or about an inch per month). So, if the weird or numb sensation goes all the way from your wrist to the tip of your thumb, it could be 4 or 5 months (4 or 5 inches) before the nerve grows all the way back and normal sensation is restored. Typically, it takes between 2 to 3 months, but can take as long as 3 years. The ‘prognosis’ for return of normal sensation often quoted in the medical literature is ‘1-12 months’.

Is there anything I can do to help prevent injury?

Complaining to your hostage-taker that your restraints are ‘too-tight’ will probably be ignored and met with a lack of empathy. If you cannot help yourself, you must build a rapport with your hostage-taker and this may take time.


There have also been reported cases of hostage-takers standing/stamping on the prisoner’s handcuffs causing them to cinch excessively tight around the wrists, resulting in a lack of circulation to the hands. It is unlikely that you will be able to build a good rapport with this type of hostage-taker so unless you can adjust your restraints you may sustain a serious/long-term injury.

Don’t rely on the hostage-taker to adjust your handcuffs and other restraints…

The Progressive Restraint Escape System™ provides the knowledge, skills and understanding for reducing the potential for injury during the application of restraints and self ‘rescue’ when they are applied too-tight.

© 2019 4TAC5.COM