Hello AlignMend Family,
This blog is a bit different. One of my very respected colleagues was kind enough to share a recommendation letter that her son wrote about Postural Restoration. If you have any doubts, concerns, questions, or are simply curious about Postural Restoration, I highly encourage you to read this letter from Lucas.
My son can relate to what is it like to grow up with a "PRI Mom" for sure. PRI changed Rowyn's life (he will begrudingly admit). Postural Restoration has change my life, my family's life, my practice as a PT, and my outcomes for my clients.
Please enjoy this letter .I promise you it is worth the read and you will not be disappointed.
Paige, PT, PRC, PCES, CSCS, CKTP
A Letter from Lucas:
"I lace my boots. I slide my shin guards in. I reach in my bag to grab… a balloon? As I sit on the rough concrete steps that lead to the bleachers, holding the pink latex in my hand, I look towards the mass of players standing near the sweltering turf field. I can’t imagine what they think of the kid slowly blowing up the bright balloon. This scene may have seemed odd to the attendees at the soccer ID camp, but to me it's an ordinary ritual I perform before every sporting event I participate in. To be honest, however, I share the same uncertainty of the other kids beholding my actions. I hardly understand the complexities of the exercise myself, besides the very simple explanation I was given from my physical therapist mother, the exercise turns on only the correct muscles for breathing. Now, grab your own balloon and enter the confusing, intricate, and bewildering world of PRI.
The Postural Restoration Institute, PRI, is a specialized practice of physical therapy, founded in 2000 by Ron Hruska. He grew up on a Nebraska farm studying the anatomy of his farm animals, which helped him understand how each part of the body affects all others. Taking this approach to humans, he realized that the asymmetry of the human body causes us to fall into right-side dominant movement patterns. With this innovative insight, Hruska created unique exercises for putting the body into neutral: “we can go to the left or the right with ease, depending on what circumstances demand”. A fairly simple explanation and philosophy. But, it’s how the patient achieves this neutrality that complicates everything. Each exercise includes multiple steps: tucking the ribs, arching the back, blowing into a balloon, lifting an arm, or even something as small as shifting the jaw to the right. On top of that, the Institute issues an approved shoe list every year, shoes that provide support and promote good posture. All of this to “turn off” overworked muscles, reposition parts of the body such as the neck and pelvis, or maximize efficiency while breathing.
But never mind the facts. PRI seems like voodoo magic. How the heck do wearing Brooks Adrenalines put my head, neck, ribcage, hips and pelvis in a better position than Adidas Ultraboosts? Even though some of the Institute’s exercises are crazy enough to be magic, it can't be denied that PRI actually works. As a newcomer it may be hard to develop an understanding for something so foreign. When I first started my PRI exercises, I only did them because I thought they’d make me somehow better at soccer. But eventually, as I performed a breathing exercise that utilized a balloon, I actually focused on what was happening, and had an epiphany of sorts. I inhaled through my nose, feeling the sweet oxygen greet my lungs. I felt the smooth exit of air forced out as my diaphragm relaxed, like water trickling down a creek, natural and peaceful. And, as I took my last breath into the balloon bulging with air, I realized PRI exercises are normal. They make the body work as it's supposed to. As I blow into the balloon, the tension in my body eases, like someone lifted their foot from my chest, allowing each breath to come easier than the last.
Despite its quirks and unorthodox exercises, throughout its short existence PRI has become quite popular, being taught and practiced worldwide. If you don’t take my word for PRI’s benefits, just ask some of the most prominent sports institutions in the United States. The voodoo magic must work if the LA Dodgers use PRI. Something must set PRI apart if the United States Men’s National Team uses it. Contrary to my false beliefs in the past, PRI won’t improve the Men’s National Team soccer abilities for the upcoming World Cup, but it will keep the players healthy.
Even though it's used worldwide, it can still be easy to believe something simply doesn’t work if the results aren’t seen immediately. Since PRI focuses on preventing injury as much as curing injuries, it’s difficult to realize the benefit of the exercises if you don’t experience pain. For me, though, my mother raised me into the ways of PRI, which has always set me apart from other kids. I wear PRI approved shoes. I’m not usually a self conscious person, but it’s extremely awkward when a friend brings up my ugly shoes. I am constantly heckled to do exercises before and after every soccer event. Despite the minor inconveniences that may come with PRI, I’ve had much less nagging muscle and tendon injuries than my teammates.
However, mistakes and mishaps happen, resulting in my major injuries. First it was playing soccer with the “big kids”. As a prepubescent fourth grader, shooting the ball at the same time as an eighth grade man also shoots the ball…doesn’t work so well. My ankle snapped backwards, the pain snaking up my leg to notify my brain something was seriously wrong. Second, deciding I had better things to do than my precious exercises, a taboo that only brings terrible omens to an unsuspecting rebel. My PRI mother tells me the lack of exercises caused rotation to happen through my knees instead of my hips, resulting in a dislocated and fractured patella. Of course, after these injuries I had some fright and doubt about rehab and returning to play, but like a wounded puppy, I crawled back to my saving grace: PRI.
Think of PRI as an onion. PRI initially seems boring and useless until you take the leap past the threshold of reluctance and doubt. We can only embrace the experience by peeling past the unappealing layers of minor displeasures to reveal the juicy interior that represents the overwhelming benefits. I choose to wear bulky and lusterless Brooks because even though they aren’t “fashionable”, they simply make my body work and feel better. My PRI journey has taught me to prioritize what’s best for myself, even if it means facing the bland repetition of exercises or unpleasant comments about my appearance. It took two major injuries for me to realize PRI’s true worth, that as a competitive athlete it is absolutely essential to exploit the powers of PRI. Even if you aren’t a sports person, I hope you can still make a new acquaintance today. That balloon sitting in your dark, dusty drawer is calling your name."
- Lucas Hammond (17 yo)