Escape These Common Types of Physical Restraints

While you have a slim chance of being abducted and restrained, knowing how to get out of common types of physical restraints could save your life one day. Prepare for a home invasion or kidnapping with these tried-and-true techniques to escape from ropes, zip ties, duct tape and handcuffs.

Duct Tape

If possible, you can prepare to escape these restraints as captors tape your hands together. Lean forward to mimic submission while pressing wrists and tight fists together. After they bind your hands, you will be in a position to tear the duct tape at just the right angle. First, stretch your arms as high as possible toward the ceiling. Then, use one forceful, fast motion to bring your arms down, trying to tear the tape by pulling your hands apart and pressing your elbows past your ribcage. It might take a few tries to rip the binding enough to escape. Focus on creating a sharp, rapid downward motion and use strength when separating your hands from one another.

Zip Ties

The mechanism that closes zip ties works much like a standard handcuff closure. Unlike with handcuffs, however, your captors cannot tighten the zip ties after binding your hands. If possible, clench your fists tightly and place your palms downward when a captor zip-ties your hands.

You can use the tension of these ties to your advantage when attempting to escape. Grab the loose end of the zip tie with your teeth and pull it as tight as possible. Adjust the tie so the lock is facing your body at the point where your hands meet.

Then, repeat the method used to break out of duct tape until the zip ties pop open. As you bring your arms downward, force your shoulder blades together and bring the zip tie in contact with your body.

You can also try to work your way out of the zip ties by rotating your hands. If you can get your thumb free, you can probably wiggle out of these restraints.

If your captors overlook a small tool like a bobby pin on your person, you can attempt to use it to break the lock of the zip tie. If you can reach your shoelaces, try threading a loose end through the zip ties, then use a sawing motion to cut through the plastic. Have a lighter handy? You can melt through the plastic but will risk a minor burn.

Rope Binding

If your captor binds you with rope and you can position your arms, push your elbows apart and place your palms together. Then, extend your arms straight ahead and try to use the resulting slack to shimmy your hands free. You can also try using your teeth to grasp a strand and unravel the rope. If that doesn’t work, try cutting through the rope using the shoelace method for zip ties, or use the corner of a wall, table or chair to saw through the rope and set yourself free.


While captors rarely use traditional handcuffs, it still pays to know how to escape these restraints. You’ll need a tool to pick the lock of the handcuffs, such as a bobby pin with the tip removed, bent into a shovel shape at a 45-degree angle. You may also want to invest in a hidden handcuff key, available on a paracord bracelet or specialized shoelace.

Insert your tool into the lock of the handcuffs. Once you contact metal, pull downward and toward the right to disengage the locking mechanism.

While you will hopefully never encounter a situation in which you are bound, these techniques can help you escape most common types of restraints used by burglars, kidnappers and other bad actors.