People ask me all the time to explain in normal human terms what Postural Restoration (PRI) is. This is difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that once you start talking about it, it’s difficult to stop. In this post I will attempt to briefly define what it is, and what distinguishes it from other styles of physical therapy.
What it is
Postural Restoration is a systematic way of assessing and retraining how the pelvis, ribcage and head balance and move over the feet. It does this by training the brain to sense a new position of balance. The motor system and the sensory system are retrained to recruit more optimal muscles to maintain this balance as you move. In doing so, overused muscles, overstressed tissues and over worn places in joints are unloaded, relieving pain. Additionally, when optimal posture is obtained the body feels more relaxed.
How it’s different
Postural Restoration challenges the very definition of good posture. Typically “good posture” involves some idea of sitting or standing up straight and tends to focus on the spine. This creates a deep lower back curve and a flat upper back curve, overusing back and neck muscles. This kind of posture is tiring and most people find it difficult to maintain. We are more concerned with retraining people to gain stability, literally, from the ground up. We train your feet to maintain a sense of the ground, and keep the work of sitting, standing and walking in the legs and abs, and out of the glutes, back and neck.
Traditional physical therapy relies on the idea that specific areas of the body are either too tight or too loose or weak. If it’s tight stretch it, if it’s loose strengthen it. The PRI method considers the whole body at once. We look at whole body patterns of tightness and weakness, which cause us to overuse muscles and push continuously into the same areas of our joints. With the use of a series of simple yet powerful activities we are able to unlock those patterns by activating opposite patterns. Relief and symptom control often begins on the first visit.
I hope this post gets you a little closer to understanding what PRI is and how it’s different. Stay tuned for a future series of posts on the various muscles that are targeted by Postural Restoration activities, and what they do.