We are excited to have you as a member of the first Postural Restoration Trained™ (PRT) class this year! How did you become interested in PRI® and when did you attend your first course?
I first was introduced to PRI through reading about Protonics and then as a patient. In 2005 I sought a therapist that was knowledgeable in PRI. This led me to Mike Dixey, a Physical Therapist at Ortho Rehab Specialist in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. My “Ah Ha” moment and my first meeting with Mike Dixey are one in the same. As I went through the assessment and his explanation of what the tests showed and how my position and pattern were affecting my function it JUST CLICKED! The powerful results and outcomes I had from working with Mike and PRI turned me into the biggest PRI advocate. I started referring anyone and everyone to him for PT. He was open to let me shadow their appointments, ask questions and guide me to education recourses to learn more about PRI. Since then, I have devoted all of my studies to understanding the science and application of PRI. I was able to attend Myokinematic Restoration as my first PRI course in October 2010. If I could have attended earlier, I would of in a second!
What is your typical client population and how are you incorporating Postural Restoration™ into your client’s programs?
I have been a Strength Coach and Personal Trainer for 15 years. At this point in my career, the clients I work with range from the 8 year old to the 93 year old and everything in-between.
I primarily work at Lifetime Fitness in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. A majority of my clients are in a one on one or small groups setting. At Lifetime Fitness, I use the PRI assessment process with all of my clients. This guides me in the development of their PRI techniques and fitness programs. Most clients are dealing with little issues such as intermittent back pain, knee tweaks, tight shoulders ect… but don’t seek Physical Therapy for it. They just live with it. Using the PRI assessment process I am able to develop the PRI and fitness programs needed to address the problems and keep the issues from becoming more problematic down the road. I also work with other trainers helping them to design their programs to better meet the needs and abilities of their clients based off of my PRI assessment of them.
I also work at Kinetic Physical Therapy in conjunction with the whole staff. It has been an amazing experience to work with and learn from each of the therapists at Kinetic. The patients are referred to me to help them make the transition back into an active lifestyle or redesign their current fitness programs. The programs that I design support what they have been doing in their therapy and teach them how to avoid many of the pitfalls you can run into in the exercise world. We are also in the early stages of starting a sports performance program that is based in the principles of PRI. The vision of this program will blend the science of PRI with a sports performance program to increase performance, decrease the potential for injury and develop a healthy balanced lifestyle.
When evaluating or analyzing your clients, what PRI® tests or objective measures do you look for?
Most clients I meet with are Left AIC patterned individuals with PEC tendencies, PECs or Patho-PECs. A very high amount of PEC pattern however (Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and 2 million+ PECs). In the initial intake appointment, each client is put through a full PRI assessment, much like they would go through with a PRC therapist. This allows me to discuss what is going on in there body and show how this may be affecting them currently or could affect them in the future. I use the information from the assessment to start them on a PRI technique program to address the findings in the assessment and lay the proper foundation for training.
Most personal training clients I meet with on a weekly or biweekly basis. Before each session I perform a quick check that consists of but not limited to, the ability to adduct their hip passively and actively, horizontal arm abduction, the Hruska Adduction Lift Test and with most people the Functional Squat Test. Each program is individual in design to the goal of the client. There are underlying rules that guide the design of the program. A couple of those rules include, educating the client on proper positioning when performing exercises (avoid over-extension, correct head placement, breathing pattern), teach reference centers to be aware of while performing the exercise (left ischial seat, right arch, left abs). Achieving a solid 3 on the Hruska Adduction Lift Test determines when a person is ready to progress to increased activity, whether it’s in their strength, speed, agility and conditioning programs.
The general layout of a clients program involves a PRI technique program specific to their needs, followed by the main part of the program with exercises that are tweaked with PRI principles and geared towards the clients’ goals. The work-out session will end with a PRI exercise, again geared to the clients needs. So a person who is a PEC or has PEC tendencies will finish with a PRI technique that incorporates flexion, abs and breathing.
As a strength and conditioning specialist, you are very familiar with the Olympic style lifts. With your interest in Postural Restoration™ and after going through the PRT™ process, how do you have your clients/athletes modify these lifts?
How I have approached the use of Olympic style lifts has changed due to the influence of PRI. A majority of my athletes that I work with are middle school to high school age. To qualify an athlete ready to move into Olympic lifts they must be a solid 3 to 4 on the Hruska Adduction Lift Test and Functional Squat Test score of a 4. I use a “ying and yang” approach when it comes to Olympic lifts in the program. After performing the Olympic lift(s) in the program, there is a flexion based exercise to follow. That could be a Resisted Wall Reach, Door Squat or IO/TA Squat. Due to the Olympic style lifts being primarily sagittal plane, they play only a part in the development of the athlete. To help develop the explosive power needed by an athlete, I integrate multi-dimensional exercises involving medicine balls, ropes, Viprs (looks like a log made of rubber with handles), boxing and plyometric style exercises. All of these tools allow multi-directional/dimensional tri-planar work and in some cases reciprocal movement.
The young athletes I work with are still taught traditional exercises (pressing, rows, ect…). I do this because likely someday down the road, they will be asked to perform them in a gym class setting, with friends or even in a strength program at school. I want them to learn how to execute those exercises with proper form and position and not how some coach did it when he/she was in sports or how a big brother does it at school, or what they have see in a magazine or on TV.
What is the response that you receive from your athletes and clients regarding your designation of PRT™ and incorporating PRI® principals into their work-outs?
All of my clients and athletes have been very supportive and positive throughout the process of obtaining the designation of PRT. Most of my clients have been with me for many years and have seen and experienced how PRI has influenced the focus and direction of their fitness goals. Educating the client through the PRI assessment process, demonstrating what they can and can’t do and explaining why in simple relatable terms gets the seed planted. During the exercise session the clients will ask questions such as “why they are doing things only one direction?” or “why are we doing this exercise like this and I see everyone else doing it like that?” Keeping the explanations simple, and as the client experiences the change in how their body feels and functions, they really begin to understand what their training program is trying to accomplish.
Not all clients are ready for the full PRI infusion into their training programs. With these clients it is a slower process of giving them the exercises they need and tweaking the exercises they think they need, until you have time to educate them. If you go “all in” with the PRI style training to soon you may loose them because they are looking for a certain thing that they have seen on TV or in other fitness centers. So if you can bring them along slowly, seeing their PRI assessments change and the positive improvement in the function and feeling of the body, will in turn bring them around the PRI side of things.
What would you say to others in your profession who are considering taking a PRI class or becoming Postural Restoration Trained™?
Start slow, you will have many questions because the material will make you view the body and how it moves different then you have ever thought. I never considered or thought of how the position of the ribs and their movement could affect the function or performance of my athletes and clients. It can be a lot to wrap your head around in the beginning, but as you go through the courses, study the material and gain experience with PRI, each step along the way will bring increased clarity, understanding and confidence.
The best place to start in conjunction with the courses is as a patient. Everyone I know in the fitness industry has an issue (or 10 issues). Seek out a PRC therapist and go through the therapy as a client. Experience how your body will change and develop a working relationship with that therapist or clinic. Start slow, don’t try and take the courses as quickly as possible. Take a course, digest and learn the material. Find a mentor or mentors in the PRI world to help guide you on your journey.
The study, application and infusion of PRI into performance and fitness training have become my passion. I have seen and experienced the powerful positive affects PRI can have on myself and my athletes and clients. I will soon begin a blog addressing the incorporation of PRI in performance and fitness training. Look for more information to come!