Allen Gruver, PT, ATC, PRC, CSCS
Allen received his Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy with honors from Elon University in 2003. He began his post secondary education at Northern Iowa University where he studied Pre-Med and earned his Athletic Training Certification in 2000. In 2006, he earned his certification from the Postural Restoration Institute becoming Arizona’s first and only certified therapist. He has extensive experience lecturing to hundreds of physicians and other health care professionals across the country on in-depth biomechanical assessment and advanced treatments utilizing the PRI methodology. Allen currently works for 360 Physical Therapy in Chandler, AZ and is a physical therapy/biomechanical consultant for The University of Arizona, Arizona Diamondbacks and several LPGA and Nationwide tour professionals.
From our records, it looks like you first attended a PRI course in 2002 as a graduate student at Elon University in North Carolina. Do you recall your first impressions of the course and how the information influenced you?
One benefit that I had that most clinicians don’t was that I was in school still. I was fighting the orthopedic model but knew there was more out there to physical therapy. To me it opened doors where I could see what was going on with the body three dimensionally and how it was going to change the way I thought and practiced. It was very enlightening.
You’ve worked closely with a couple individuals that have been critical to the success and growth of PRI, Kyndy Boyle and James Anderson. How has their support and mentorship shaped your career as a therapist?
In school, Dr. Boyle knew that I was kind of, well I would come up to her and ask a lot of questions. Why wouldn’t she measure this and how did she know if that muscle was tight if she hadn’t checked this? I think she was getting sick of all my questions all the time. She had attended Ron’s course, I believe in South Carolina and had came back really excited. She had met James (Anderson) there and wanted me to do a clinical with him in the tiny town of Glenwood, IA. I said okay- and gave it a shot. James and I took off from there and developed this great relationship. I went in as a student and really challenged him which I think helped us both learn and really challenged James’ PRI knowledge and skills. Everything sort of took off from there.
And you still keep in touch with them?
All the time.
In what capacity are you currently using PRI?
I practice in an outpatient orthopedic clinic, (360 Physical Therapy). I personally see a lot of spine and chronic pain type patients. I’m the guy that if you’re dealing with a bunch of issues I tend to see those patients in my everyday clinical practice. On the side I do consulting with other therapists and then also consult with professional teams. I’ve been doing that for the past 6 or 7 months.
How did you get started with athletic consultation?
James had taught a course in Chandler and a trainer from the University of Arizona attended. We exchanged cards and he gave me a call after that. He was seeing a volleyball player and a swimmer with chronic pain and wanted me to take a look. I evaluated them and gave an in-service to some of the staff about what PRI is and what I do personally. I evaluated the girls, and probably within about 2 weeks, after they were both looking at medical leave, they started seeing results and getting better. That (experience) developed into full time consulting with the University down in Tucson. Through them, they told the Arizona Diamondbacks about me and they asked me to come do an in-service as well as evaluate a couple players. I’ve been really fortunate from that standpoint that the people I’ve started consulting with are very open minded and understand how the body works three dimensionally. They appreciate that it’s just not always a straight forward orthopedic answer. They really grasped onto that. I’ve been very blessed and fortunate that these relationships have developed (from my reputation) and word of mouth.
You recently consulted in Denver as well, right?
Ya, about 1 ½ - 2 months ago I went up to Denver to consult with the Broncos. How did it go? It went really well. Again, I did an in-service and consulted on a chronic labral issue and joint pathology. It was a successful consultation with the patient feeling the best he has in 15 years after only a matter of weeks (using the PRI techniques).
Will you be going back to consult regularly?
I plan to go back and consult about once a month when they need me. I’ll also continue to consult with the Diamondbacks when they are in town, about once a week and head down to Tucson once or twice a month (to the University of Arizona). My ultimate goal is to do even more consulting in the future.
You’re currently one of only 23 PRC therapists nationwide and the only PRC therapist practicing in Arizona. What made you decide to pursue certification?
Well, Postural Restoration has changed my life and career. Because of that, you kind of owe it to the science and to Ron to pursue certification. To put your name out there with those three letters behind it basically showing that you promote a science and Institute. You’ve taken a lot of time to build this knowledge and that’s how you treat and look at things. From that standpoint it was important to me that I did that.
Was the certification process what you had expected?
Yes it was. From the 4 days of the (Advanced) course and the days after. I think it was less stressful than I thought it would be.
Do you have any advice for those considering PRC?
Anytime I’ve went to a course and someone has asked me I tell them it’s not as bad as you might think. My advice would be to continue to learn and become part of this (PRC) group and the Institute and continue to promote the science and to look at these principles as Ron has said is important. You’re in a network and everyone talks together and you continue to promote learning as you go. That’s really what we try to focus on. PRC is a way to recognize those with a certain level of passion and expertise but it is first and foremost an educational process. That’s what it’s all about. Certification doesn’t really make me more marketable – no one really knows what it means, PRC. It was important to me from that standpoint. People get caught up in what am I going to be able to do with this. I guess you have to look internally to answer that question.
I recently posted an article you wrote for golfers to our website. You also contributed a case study this year on the relationship between left lumbo-pelvic and right upper trap pain. Are you currently working on any other articles, presentations or projects?
The golf article has been printed in Arizona Golf. It’s a specialized golf magazine that all major golf courses around here get. They have columns where therapists or trainers can write in. I’m also trying to get more into writing articles because of baseball and my relationship with the Diamondbacks. (I want to write an article) looking at trunk positioning and the influence of scapular dysfunction and dyskinesis and how that affects a pitchers shoulder and how to look at movement patterns and assess the hip and how that’s going to influence the shoulder. So I’m putting together some articles for that and working on that. I also continue to do in-services and get out into the community to promote the science and do the work around here myself in lonely old Arizona (laughs).
There is a lot of work to do as the only PRC therapist in Arizona. What are the concepts you focus on most when presenting a short in-service to someone who has never heard of PRI?
First I give a background/history of PRI. Then I go into fundamental principles, ie: polyarticular muscle chains, patterns of dominance, arthrokinematics, myokinematics in regards to the postural pattern of asymmetry, objective tests and reasoning for tests and then finally basic treatment considerations with focus on positional facilitation and inhibition. It’s a short version of all the courses I have taken with Ron and James and has always been well received.
Are your in-services mostly physician directed?
And therapists. Every other Thursday, I don’t know if you want to call it an in-service but kind of, with area clinicians who have attended a course. I’ve just been here to kind of guide them and be a mentor towards them because I know their frustrations. That is part of the reason I’ve succeeded with PRI because I’ve had James and Kyndy. This network is important if you want to succeed with this philosophy because it’s (Postural Restoration) so different and takes a lot of thinking. I would guess if you’re just on your own trying to practice the chances are you may fail because it can be overwhelming. So I do that for the entire phoenix area. We’ll talk for a good 3 hours.
How did that get started?
I just started offering it. My clinic has really picked up on this (Postural Restoration). I want to see them succeed. It’s good to get out there and discuss (concepts) so it’s been really good.
That is great. Too often you hear more about the competition between therapists rather than the collaboration! PRC Therapists often find themselves in a consulting position and therefore in positions to initiate collaboration which it sounds like you are definitely doing! Thanks for your time, Allen.