An Introduction Into The Postural Restoration Institute


Over the past decade, outside of the Functional Movement Systems (FMS, SFMA, Y-Balance), the Postural Restoration Institute, or PRI for short, has been another system or methodology we’ve adopted into our training programs.  We don’t go all crazy with PRI specific correctives, unless specifically told to do so by our trusted resource, Nancy Hammond.  However, we do look into posture and how people are positioned, and PRI helped us understand how to look at people and gave us a better understanding of what anatomy and position should look like to be in neutral.


We recently had Nancy come into our gym to give our team a brief overview of what PRI is and why it matters in the training world.  Long story short…it’s all about position.  If you’re in the right positions, you’re going to move better and minimize compensation.  Check out the in-service and open your eyes to the world of “left-stance.”

I’ll be breaking out how we use this info in our gym and in our training in some upcoming articles, but let’s start with the in-service.



As a PRI certified physical therapist, Nancy Hammond can help you address your pain, perform better and/or prevent injury. After graduating from St Louis University as a physical therapist over 20 years ago, she has helped many patients achieve their goals. She sees PRI as the “missing tool in her toolbox”. Nancy utilizes PRI to discover “why” clients’ pain exists and address its root cause. She has a passionate interest in the science of postural restoration.

Nancy Hammond

As an avid marathon runner, she has personally benefitted and experienced firsthand how system balance improves performance. In addition, PRI has enabled her to empower clients to take control of their health, so they understand how movement patterns can help prevent injury. Finally, as a mom of four active boys, PRI helps her appreciate that balance means more than managing busy lives. It also means understanding that every change (e.g., gait, braces, glasses, physical environment, puberty) impacts the harmony of their growing bodies.


Find out more about Nancy and Integrate 360 here:

One Simple Exercise to Help Clear the Active Straight Leg Raise

The pelvic tilt is one of the most basic, low-level exercises you can do in any position.  Simply taking the pelvis through a series of anterior and posterior tilts in multiple positions can add a tremendous value to your warm-ups.  I’ve seen this exercise drastically reduce back pain, open up the hips a little, and teach people how to control their pelvis and lumbar spine.


If you’re stuck with some of your clients, check the pelvic tilt and see if they have the ability to control the pelvis as they take it through anterior and posterior tilts.  They should be able to naturally tilt their pelvis forward and back without much effort.  If there isn’t hardly any movement, this is no good.  Also, if they CAN do it, we want to observe the effort level.  We’ll see a lot of people that can take the hips through both forward and backward tilting.  However, when they go through the posterior tilt portion, they’ll do a little “shake and bake.”  The hips/lumbar spine may shake a little and you’ll notice that it’s a little challenging for them to control the movement…so the movement is there…it’s just hard to control.


Simply adding these into warm-ups, rehearsing during active recovery time, and sneaking them in periodically can have tremendous value.  Try them in prone, supine, quadruped, kneeling, sitting, and standing.  In each one of those positions, we’re looking for the ability to maintain proper breathing and the ability to do a series of pelvic tilts under control.  If you’re not able to maintain a normal breathing pattern and have the ability to control your pelvis, lumbar spine, and rib cage (pelvic tilting), than you’re not going to progress to the highest levels in that position.  You’re body may be able to do training in that position, but if breathing and low level posture is difficult or altered, you’re simply surviving the exercise and not truly adapting.


Start checking this with your clients and you’ll be surprised at how many people have issues with this.  If you can retrain their brains and give them the awareness to control the pelvic tilt, they’re going to see the benefits.  Give it a shot!





Breathing Like A Baby.

Have you ever watched a baby breathe?


They are “Buddha belly breathers”. You will see their bellies go up and down, up and down, as they use their diaphragm to fill their little lungs all the way up. And while we may think of the lungs as doing all the work, it is actually the diaphragm that is your primary breathing muscle.




The diaphragm is a thin wide sheet of muscle that separates the rib cage from the abdomen. It is dome shaped at rest, but when it contracts it flattens out significantly. When this happens the organs below it have to go somewhere, so they push down and out, which is why good diaphragmatic breathing causes your belly, sides, and back to expand. In conjunction with the pelvic floor (which is why your guts can only go down so far) a stable “core” is created. When the diaphragm and pelvic floor are lined up on top of each other, with the viscera pushing out in all directions, your core is working as it should, and the more power, strength and injury resilience you will possess.


But have you ever seen a baby scream? We probably focus on all the noise they are making, but take a look at how they are breathing, just don’t wait too long, or they really get wound up!


Do you see what’s happening? No more Buddha belly. Now the muscles of the chest, neck and shoulders are doing all the work. These muscles are activated during times of stress, when we get kicked into “fight or flight” mode. We breathe shallower, faster, with our shoulders up in our ears instead of relaxed. This is not a good place to be. Change that diaper already!


Well as you are no doubt aware, babies aren’t the only ones who stress out. So many of the clients who walk through our doors live in a chronic stress state. Work, home, pour nutrition, lack of sleep – they all contribute. Because of this they have forgotten how to breathe correctly, with the diaphragm. Instead they are constantly in “stress breathing” mode, and they are suffering for it. Forward head posture, poor thoracic mobility, and neck and shoulder pain. Many times when you talk to such clients they will tell you that their neck is always “tight”, they know they have a bad habit of carrying their shoulders up high, they go for frequent massage; we hear those stories more and more. Think about it. If you are breathing and/or carrying yourself that way all the time, that means those muscles are in some level of contraction all the time – no wonder they are tired and sore!

beautiful young sportswoman has a pain in her shoulder

More often than not, those same clients will score a “1” on their shoulder mobility screen. When that happens, it’s time to dig in and do your breakouts  to find out why. While there can be a number of reasons, AC impingement among them, often times we find it can be a matter of teaching them to restore good breathing patterns that makes all the difference.


Now I suspect some of you may be thinking – “Teach people to breathe, are you crazy? They will never go for it.” And I won’t lie (although I am crazy), there is much education and persistence that will be needed here. It amazes me that we still struggle to get grown men and women to be still and quiet long enough to focus on “low level” things like this. We don’t lay around and do breathing for 10 minute stretches, but a couple minutes of focused work in this area can make all the difference.


My favorite way to start retraining “Buddha belly breathing” is with crocodile breathing. In crocodile breathing you lie face down on the floor with your forehead resting on the back of your hands. Inhale through the nose, and focus breathing into your belly. By laying face down you are creating feedback; we say “the floor is the front of the core”, and by giving the belly something to push against, it makes it easier to breathe into IMG_0241the back and sides. Get hands on with your clients here; by putting your hands on their low back and then sides, you can ask them to “breathe into my hands”, which gives a targeted focus. Some will get it right away, those who don’t are usually still not breathing down low. Make sure their shoulders are relaxed and down; even lying down many people are not aware they are in the “stress position”.


From crocodile breathing you can work on the same thing in the supine position, and then move to more challenging breathing work, such as 3-month breathing progressions, cat/cow with breathing, and kneeling holds with breathing.


Don’t be shy about rescreening Shoulder Mobility. It’s high on the FMS hierarchy for a reason. Oftentimes clearing up SM, particularly if breathing retraining helped, will result in a whole host of other dysfunction being cleared up as well. That’s because posture will improve, the ability to create intra-abdominal pressure and therefore stability can improve as well. All this makes for a better moving, stronger and ultimately happier client. That is what we all want.


And it’s all because you breathe like a baby.


How cool is that?


Dean Carlson