I felt right at home with the clinicians at Finish Line Physical Therapy, all seasoned runners. Photos of their and their patients’ running accomplishments, all smiles at the completion of a race, adorn the space – and make for the perfect back-drop to discuss the impact of undesirable airflow patterns, habitual use of accessory muscles of breathing, and a restricted diaphragm on movement.
Asymmetry is the rule of the body and brain. As such, humans, by design, exhibit a right-sided preference, which is reinforced by a culture that favors sitting and a lifestyle made easier by technology. The result is a form of “hemi-neglect” of left sided muscles of grounding – hamstrings, gluts, and abdominals – needed for weight-shifting. Rib cages remain under the influence of muscles that don’t promote alternating internal and external rotation and the associated sense of expansion and recoil. The result is a form of left or bilateral COPD, with its distinctive hyperinflation.
Stiff, patterned rib cages and abdominal oblique disuse cause the diaphragm to undergo twist and torsion that, in many cases, cannot get out of. This twist of our respiratory system is a significant mechanism underlying the many syndromes and injuries that we confront in the clinic.
Many thanks to our weekend avatars, whose willingness to demonstrate and receive techniques enabled us all to better understand PRI concepts: Patrick Cronin, PT; Laura Gibbons, PT; Laura Loftus; Iris Platt, PT; RikkiLynn Shields. Thank you Yohei Takada, PT, PRC and Andrew Xenophontos, CSCS, PRT for your tremendous help in lab, coaching the attendees in the nuances of the manual and non-manual techniques, allowing them to experience the power and influence of these techniques on the neuro-muscular system. Finally, thank you to the physical therapists at Finish Line PT for being gracious hosts: Mandy “I WILL blow up a balloon” Fox, Connor Hesselbirg, Jaclyn Massi, Ryan Matisko, Timothy Waanders, and Jimmy Williams.
Finish Line PT is a clinic for runners and triathletes, people who strive to be their best selves. To all of the course attendees, I hope the material you learned this weekend will help take you to new heights in your careers and shift your stride to a new way of looking at, and improving, movement.