This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of sitting in on some Principles and Progressions of the Postural Restoration Institute at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning. This was led Trevor Reppa a really smart guy and soon to be graduate of Columbia University, and before all those great knowledge bombs leave my little head, I wanted to try and share some things I took away from this weekend.
Please note, there is no way I can squeeze everything mentioned this past Sunday as it would be a huge disservice to Trevor.
What is this Postural Restoration Institute Stuff?
The postural restoration institute recognizes that the body is not symmetrical. Everyone has two eyes, two, ears, two legs ect, and our systems function in an asymmetrical pattern that helps balance the body.
These asymmetries reflect the way the human brain works. While the brain does present actual right left hemispheres, each hemisphere is responsible for opposite sides of the body.By knowing how the brain works, PRI seek to educate people about proper breathing and techiues that can help restore the body back to a neutral postion.
Here are a few main concepts I took away from PRI principles.
Everyone is stuck in a pattern, and we take over 21,000 breaths a day!
As humans , we tend to be right side dominant creatures. No matter how hard you may try, our body is asymmetrical by nature. Lets use the Diaphragm as an example, and as you’ll notice that nothing is the same throughout.
Larger right diaphragm leaflet with liver underneath
Smaller left diaphragm leaflet with heart on top
Three lobes to our right lung, two lobes to our left
Not much for anatomy and want something you can relate to? No problem, take a look at the Statue of David .
If you look closely, you will notice that not too many of us stray away from this exact position. Because of the way we live our lives, our bodies have developed asymmetrical compensatory muscles. Weather you play a sport, sit at a desk all day, or stand on your feet, your body has become really good at developing asymmetrical compensatory muscles.
We all have some sort of stress in our lives. Whatever it may be in life, stress is the brains response to any demand.
Not all stress is bad, as it can create areas for improvement, but the stress that makes you want to pound your head into a wall is not what we are looking for.
In fact, chronic levels of stress actually cause the area of your brain that is responsible for growth and improvement to shut down and go into a reverse effect and you might begin to think like this guy from Looney Tunes!
Where do I go from here?
We start by learning how to breath correctly!
PRI, states that you should first learn how to breath like a baby . When most people breath they tend to use their necks instead of their diaphragm. In order to get the body back to neutral , it all comes down to learning how to expand the abdomen first, then the chest. Check out this cool video on breathing.
Why do we want to breath deep?
The bottoms of the lungs have a better blood supply which will help circulate oxygen throughout the body. When we you use your diaphragm correctly, your body becomes less tense, and your posture will start to improve and so will your overall body.
Where do we start?
This pose tends to be one of the easier places to start with breathing. Set up on all fours and extend your arms out in front of you until you get a nice stretch. From there, make a fist and act as if it were a balloon, and inflate your lungs as much as possible while breathing out all the air into your fists as if you were blowing up a baloon. Repeat for 3-5 breaths.
Here, you lie on your back with your knees in the air and back flat to the ground. Place yoru hands on top of your rips to help monitor your breathing patterns. Once set, take a large deep breath in while imagining that the universe is blowing air into your entire body, and upon exhale imagine blowing up a baloon as hard as you can untill you have no more air in your lungs. Repeat for 3-5 Breaths.
All 4’s Breathing
Position yourself on your hands and knees and arch your back so that it is rounded. Push your self away from the ground and maintain that pressure throughout the breathing. If you are in the correct position, you should feel a slight stretch across your shoulder blades. Stay in the rounded position and repeat for 3-5 breaths.
Standing Wall Supported Reach
Stand facing away from a wall, and place your heels about 6-10 inches away from the wall. Stand up straight with your knees about shoulder width apart. Bring your arms out in front of you and press your low back into the wall. Think bra line to belt line nice and flat. Next, squat down, and while keeping your low back flat to the wall take a deep breath in. While exhaling reach down and towards the ground. If you are doing the exercise correctly, you should feel the muscles in your abdominals working, a slight stretch in your lats, and your thighs.
Try one of these exercises over the next few weeks and let me know how you start to feel. Perform these right before a warmup then workout, and your body should start to come around after some time. Or , better yet, do some type of breathing drill everyday and your bidy will thank you down the road.
Keep in mind, that I do not want you to do all of these at once. Pick an exercise that you know you can comfortably breath in but adds a little challenge as well. Once one gets easier, move on to the next one.
To wrap things up!
I learned over the past weekend, that everyone breaths like crap, and that everyone is out of whack! The body is designed to be asymmetrical by nature, but we have developed bad patterns over time that have caused us to compensate in other areas throughout.