Postural Restoration (PRI) is a form of physical therapy unique from the traditional model. It allows us to prevent injury, treat the source of pain rather than the symptoms, and treat the body holistically in ways that traditional therapy cannot. Here are some of the major differences:
1) PRI appreciates the naturally occurring asymmetries of the body. Although we may look symmetrical from side to side, we actually are not. The diaphragm (the main muscle of respiration that attaches to the backside of the front of our ribcage and the frontside of our lower spine) has a much larger attachment on the right. Additionally, we have organic differences as well. Our heart is only on our left side and we therefore have one less lung lobe on the left side. The liver sits under the right diaphragm keeping it in a better position for respiration. These differences tend to make us shift our weight on our right foot with our pelvis and lower spine orienting toward the right as well. On top of this, our world is set up to bias the right side. When entering the supermarket, you must first turn right, our car's radio is typically on the right, and we typically walk/drive on the right hand side of the street or walkway. All of these factors come together and cause us to develop certain movemement strategies or habits in which we use the right side of our body far more than the left. This can lead to repetitive injuries and/or unbalanced musculoskeletal systems causing pain.
2) Diaphragmatic function is key. We breathe, on average, 20-24,000 times a day. Breathing in an unbalanced way will quickly lead to pain or dysfunction unless we intervene. Additionally, the diaphragm essentially connects the upper and lower body. PRI is the only treatment approach that works to rebalance the diaphragm, then restore normal and symmetrical position/function. This "unlocks" the ribcage and pelvis and allows us to stabilize them in a more neutral position, and teach our arms and legs to work off of this new, correctly positioned foundation.
3) The body is connected. The site of pain may not be the source of pain at all, it may in a completely different spot! For example, a patient with neck pain may ultimately need foot orthotics for pain relief. If their right heel twists inward (toward the center of their body), the patient may place more weight on the ball of their feet as it is wider and can support more weight. This weight shift will cause their pelvis to tip forward and their lower back to extend. This then causes their ribcage to extend backward (to keep them from falling forward) and forces their head to stick forward in order to get their eyes on the horizon. By putting an orthotic in place that corrects their heel position, they can appropriately weight bear on that bone and have better spinal alignment with less tension on their neck. PRI assess position, motion, and strength throughout the body, no matter the site of pain, so that we can fully understand how well your body moves as a whole and work to restoring mechanics to fix the source of the problem, not just treat the symptoms.
4) Other specialties may be needed to fully address musculoskeletal pain. Our body uses "reference centers" to help us know where we are in space: feeling our heels on the ground, being equally aware of our peripheral vision, feeling pressure differences side to side in our joints. One powerful reference center is our bite. If we are missing teeth or our teeth don't fit together well, the body will move or position itself differently to try to correct for this problem. Check out the video below to see how a simple bite guard can allow us to feel those reference centers appropriately and allow our bodies to move correctly. PRI maximizes interdisciplinary care with dentists, orthotics (someone who makes foot orthotics), and neuroptomotrists (who assess vision and how the eyes work together) so that our reference centers can appropriately tell us where we are in space so that we can move through it from a mechanically correct perspective.
Interested in seeing how PRI can help you? Want more information? Call us at 314-733-5000 or email Lesley@Integrate360PT.com or Nancy@Integrate360PT.com . We are the only PRI certified clinic in the St. Louis area.