Monday, September 16, 2013

Go Beyond Yoga and Pilates to Ease Muscle Tension with Proactive Postural Restructuring

I mentioned in my recent post Do You Remember Feeling Good in Your Body? that one of my favorite somatic education methods is Proactive Postural Restructuring. PPR is a somatic (mind-body) education method that can produce amazing results for those who have chronic aches and pains in their joints and muscles that are often the result of poor posture, accidents, sprains, falls, even surgery. These contributing factors may have occurred years ago too, but over the years our bodies have developed altered movement patterns that can cause issues that seem to "come out of nowhere".

PPR is kind of hard to explain in 25 words or less, so I'm including a video showing a few of the fundamental exercises. (I'm a better trainer than I am video producer, so bear with me!) These may look simple but actually can be challenging when really paying attention to the nuances of proper function.

The exercises are not so much "exercises" but simple movements to reeducate and reorganize muscle patterns that bring better balance, ease and comfort to how we feel in our bodies. The exercises help to:
  • develop better mind-body awareness in the lumbar spine, hips, and pelvis so we separate movement that occurs in the hip from movement that occurs in the spine.
  • restore proper length and width to the back, releasing tension.
  • restore proper strength and flexibility in the ankles and feet, so they are fully operational which improves our base of support and helps correct stance and gait patterns. 
Proactive Postural Restructuring is best suited for those who are proactive in their health and fitness journey. Proactive, meaning that you personally have to take action instead of choosing a more passive approach, such as massage, chiropractic or surgery to release pain. The student has to tune into her/his body, perform the movements, be aware and practice.

That's not to say that passive treatments are unnecessary. I mean, who doesn't love a great massage, right? But between treatments or bodies return to habitual tightness that may release while on the treatment table. When I was training for my half-marathon I had issues with tightness in my Achilles tendons. PT and chiropractic treatments involved the Graston Technique to break up tight fascia in my calf muscles. It helped, but not long term. I need something every day to help between treatments. That's when I discovered my love for the foam roller! I took a proactive stance and foam rolled daily, was pain free and finished the half in record time, for me :-) That's what I mean by being proactive.

And I strongly feel that taking an active roll in our health and pain management is very empowering.

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