Interviews

Kevin Neeld, BSC, MS, CSCS, PRT

How did you first hear about the Postural Restoration Institute® and what sparked your interest initially?

I was first introduced to PRI in 2010 by Eric Cressey, who had nothing but good things to say about the information. The primary athletic population I work with at Endeavor Sports Performance is ice hockey players, a population heavily burdened by soft-tissue injuries and unique structural adaptations around the pelvic girdle. I had spent several years reading through as much of the research on injury mechanisms and contributing factors related to adductor and hip flexor strains, athletic pubalgia, osteitis pubis, femoroacetabular impingement, labral tears, etc. Ultimately, PRI piqued my interest as another lens through which to view, treat, train around, and ideally to minimize risk of all of these injuries.

I signed up for the nearest Myokinematic Restoration course I could find, but it got cancelled so I ended up taking the home study in September 2010. There are pros and cons to taking the home study course versus a live version, but I think it was helpful to be able to stop, rewind, and replay some things as I was learning that PRI was going to hold me accountable for a deeper understanding of functional anatomy, and a slightly different language system for expressing relative movement. The assessment and treatment algorithms in Myokinematic Restoration were fairly easy to integrate into our system, which is a major benefit of that course. That said, it’s been a few years since I first brought PRI back to our facility and it’s certainly an ongoing evolution. 

We are thrilled to have you as part of the 2013 Postural Restoration Trained (PRT) class! How did that process help you? Do you have any advice to other strength and conditioning professionals who are considering the PRT credentialing process?

It was an honor to be part of that group! The application requirements were much more involved than other certification/credentialing processes that I’ve taken part in, but I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on PRI concepts, how we’ve been using it, and how this information can be integrated into research and practical applications. Ultimately, I felt the application process allowed me to better “own” the information and prepared me well for the testing.

Since I first came across PRI, I’ve felt it’s one of the best educational values out there, as the courses provide high quality anatomy reviews, a deeper understanding of functional movement and regional interdependence, a new assessment paradigm, and treatment algorithms. The PRT credentialing isn’t cheap, but I looked at it almost as a high level coaching opportunity. Twelve hours of testing and in depth discussion of Postural Restoration® concepts as they pertain to movement, athletic performance, and injury mechanisms with Ron, Jen, Jason, and the other applicants provided a very unique opportunity to benefit from the collective decades of PRI experience in the room to clarify gaps in my understanding, as well as stimulate new thought processes and applications. I couldn’t be happier with the experience!

You have a background in ice hockey, and continue to have a strong passion in working with athletic development of the hockey player. Tell us a little about your background, your current practice as it relates to hockey, and what you hope to do in the future.

I’ve been passionate about hockey since I was first introduced to it at age 6. The short version of the story is that I was a mildly overweight, slow, and generally un-athletic, but fairly skilled player that benefited greatly from a structured strength and conditioning program. I knew by age 14 that I wanted to develop a career out of training hockey players, and spent most of my college years balancing off-ice training pursuits with on-ice lessons, clinics, etc. It wasn’t really until the Summer between my two years at grad school, when I passed up an opportunity to run my own series of power skating and puck handling clinics all Summer to intern at Eric Cressey’s facility and pay out of pocket to take a Functional Anatomy class as part of BU’s DPT program that I unanimously shifted my efforts away from the ice, and into off-ice development.

My goal for Endeavor has always been to create a comprehensive resource to inspire and develop optimal performance. The word “Integration” really resonates with me. There are people that specialize in various areas like functional movement, energy systems, nutrition, recovery strategies, etc., many of which I highly respect and continue to look to for new information. However, my goal is to integrate all of these areas of expertise into a cohesive system of assessing, monitoring, and managing that best allows us to develop our athletes. For this Summer’s off-season hockey group, this will involve:

- Assessing all of the players using a battery of tests taken from PRI and FMS, as well as traditional orthopedic tests to gain an understanding of any underlying structural or functional limitations or imbalances that will warrant consideration in the training process.
- A comprehensive body fat analysis to get an indication of areas of regional adiposity as that may relate to hormonal imbalances.
- A few performance tests as well as a resting HR and heart rate variability to help identify their strengths/weakness in their athletic profile, as well as get a snapshot of the state of their autonomic nervous system.
- Using this information to individualize training programs based on the player’s results, goals, and desired role on the ice.
- Providing nutrition and supplementation recommendations to best facilitate optimal health, training adaptations, and recovery.
- Providing manual therapy and kinesiotaping services (personally and through an extended network locally).
- Reassessing specific things periodically to track the adaptation process and drive future programming.
- Ideally, having some input on what the focus of on-ice work is during the off-season so players aren’t inadvertently creating conflicting adaptation stimuli.

Everything is and always will be an evolution, but we’ve made a lot of progress in the last 6-months creating systems that make this integration more feasible.

How do you integrate Postural Restoration testing, principles or techniques into your training programs? What specifically do you find most important to address when training the hockey player?

All of our athletes undergo an assessment when they first come in (or come back). We’ll use the assessment, along with other information such as the athlete’s age, gender, training experience, sport, training goals, and injury history to design their training programs. When appropriate, we’ll include PRI-based corrective work at the beginning and end of their training sessions. This is built into each individual’s program so the work is most specific to their needs. The thought is that I don’t want anyone training or leaving our facility in a non-neutral state. In the past, I’ve also written PRI exercise progressions into training programs for everyone, typically with more “Myokin” influenced exercises on lower body days, and “BC/Postural” influenced exercises on upper body days or a mix on full body days. However, we’ve done a little testing and found that athletes tend to hold their neutrality throughout the training session well if they’re monitored closely throughout the process, so we’ll likely continue using it as a pre-warm-up and cool down, opposed to active rest between sets.

We’ve experimented with a few different applications of PRI principles, but a few of the ones that have persisted are:

-Getting people to exhale fully to set their rib cage during any exercise where an individual may be prone to excessive extension.
-Performing Backward Monster Walks (band around the knees) with a “Left Foot Lead” to help drive left hip internal rotation.
-Performing Lateral MiniBand Walks (band around knees) in a “Left Right Left” fashion to add a little more work to the right hip abductors and external rotators.
-Performing some quadruped exercises with a pad under the left knee to drive a little more posterior capsule expansion and hip adduction/internal rotation.

Naturally, hockey puts a lot of stress on the hips, both in terms of testing extreme ranges of motion in multiple planes and the force/volume of stress placed across the joint. As a result of theses positions and patterns, most players will present with an anterior pelvic tilt, and posterior capsule stiffness, on one or both sides. We’re also finding that most players present with a degree of anterior capsule laxity. Given the high prevalence of FAI and labral damage in the sport, I strongly believe it’s important to intervene on these adaptations early to prevent environments of functional impingement from becoming structural, and to minimize excessive accessory motion at the joint secondary to imbalances in capsular integrity.

Have you been able to integrate with any other professionals in your community with Postural Restoration®?

I’m fortunate to have a great support network in my area. I work closely with two PT’s (Ned Lenny and Anthony Vittese), as well as a chiropractor (Shane McCann). All have attended a PRI course and are looking forward to attending more in the future. Despite their professional labels, all of these guys have a wide range of assessment and treatment skill sets and great manual abilities. They’ve been extremely helpful in attending to any of our athletes that may be injured through competition or to simply provide a second set of eyes on a problem we may be struggling with.

As those who follow you know, you like to write (and you are great at it). You are constantly blogging and have authored several ice hockey training products. Do you have any plans to pursue publishing any training articles related to PRI? What topics most interest you when you are writing (or reading)?

Thank you! Writing is fun for me; unfortunately my schedule hasn’t allowed for as much of it as I’d like over the last several months. I’ve written a bit about PRI principles as they apply to injury mechanisms in hockey players for my site and for HockeyStrengthandConditioning.com, but haven’t looked very far beyond that. I realize there is a need for more case studies and discussion of these asymmetries as they pertain to specific populations (e.g. hockey players) in the literature, and maybe I’ll pursue that in the future if my schedule allows for it. In the meantime, I just spoke at a seminar with Joel Jamieson in New Hampshire last month, and PRI principles and how they affect our assessment and training paradigm were a fundamental component of my talk. I’m also in the process of outlining the next edition of my book Ultimate Hockey Training, which I plan to include a more in-depth discussion on how these asymmetries discussed in PRI influence the hockey population. 

A few of Kevin’s blog entries related to PRI:
Managing Structural and Functional Asymmetries in Ice Hockey: Part 1
Managing Structural and Functional Asymmetries in Ice Hockey: Part 2
Integrating PRI into Performance Training Programs

Who have been some of your mentors in your career? Any mentors specifically when it comes to Postural Restoration®?

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had opportunities to learn from a number of brilliant professionals in our field. Mike Boyle and Eric Cressey have both had a significant influence on my career from its inception and continue to be great mentors to me. I’ve learned a great deal from Mike Potenza, Brijesh Patel, Chris Boyko, Sarah Cahill, and Anthony Donskov about how to design more effective training programs, and maybe more importantly, on how to become a better coach. I’ve never met anyone more dedicated to their athletes than this group. Charlie Weingroff, Patrick Ward, Neil Rampe, and Andrew Hauser have all been extremely influential in helping “unmuddy the waters” for me as I dig my way further down the rabbit hole that is understanding the human organism and its adaptation to stress. Neil and Andrew have been particularly helpful in sharing their PRI wisdom, and exchanging ideas on alternative applications of the principles.

History of Passion

The Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) is built around 30 years of clinical practice associated with recurring successes of specific patient treatment programs. We established reproducible, outcome-based programs based on consistent evidence-based correlations, discovered with patient biomechanical, respiratory, and neurological functional patterns and limitations. My passion for the integrated systems of the body has resulted in an examination and intervention process of the asymmetrical human body called Postural Restoration.