What is Postural Restoration (PRI?)*

Unless some misfortune has made it impossible, everyone can have good posture.  ~Loretta Young
Posture is not based on the position of your shoulders or in the lift of your chest. Rather it can be found in the physical constitution of your diaphragm. This idea might be easier to accept, if I told you, it's all in your core. 
Recently, my path has crossed with a physical therapist who wants to change the perception of "good posture.” I am thoroughly a convert to Ron Hruska, MPA-PT’s definition of proper posture. The biomechanics expert is teaching his Postural Restoration techniques and theories to physical therapists and exercise specialists and, in-turn, reporting huge rehab success from their clients. He believes that good posture is a function of a well-shaped left diaphragm and with training of the diaphragm, people experience fewer injuries, reversal of chronic joint, knee, hip pain and alleviation of such maladies as tinnitus, TOS, TMJ and much, much more. I am going to do my best, in as little scientific lingo as possible, to explain the concept behind PRI. 

Our bodies are asymmetrical. Not just in a hand-dominance way, but actually inside our body. Just about abdomen level is our diaphragm. It separates the belly from the lungs. It kind of looks like a stingray mid-swim, hump-center-hump. On the right hump and under the diaphragm is our liver. The liver is a burly organ with many important jobs. One of which is to support the right diaphragm; additionally above the right diaphragm are three lobes of lung. Alternatively, on the left side below the diaphragm is a pliable stomach and an expendable spleen, and above the diaphragm is our heart and two lobes of lungs. So, now we have a teeter-totter effect. Right diaphragm high over the liver and left diaphragm low under the heart. Going back to our string-ray, now he looks a little skewed: domed-hump-center-flat-hump. 
Human Beings: humans can go months without food, approximately a week without water, but only minutes without breath. Everything our body does, or doesn't do, is to enable us to keep breathing; and our body wants to do it in the easiest way possible. Due to this natural design, we tend to stand, sit and sleep centering our weight over our right hip. (Yes, even when laying in bed.) Why is this the easiest way? Because our liver supports the right diaphragm and we can pump-out our breath with as little exertion as possible. This is a survival mechanism, so we can be ready to take flight if needed.  
Being human: here is the problem, our lungs will seek the easiest way to breath despite the physical demands we place on our body. When humans stand on their right leg (right-hip center) the tendency is to turnout the left leg. Since we could crawl (and maybe, even in-utero), we have been adopting this pattern. Therefore, our musculature develops with a right-stand dominance. All would likely be just fine, and for many, can live pain-free. However, add in your life, and now the problems begin to manifest. From early on we imitate our parents walk, we engage in repetitive stress activities, we ask more (or less) of our body then it can accommodate. So, instead of shifting to the left regularly, (by the way, standing on the left we often find "feels weird"), we stay in "easy breathe" mode and keep standing on the right. We overuse our right-stand muscles. Then we start compensating for our tired right-stand muscles by engaging accessory muscles to keep us in right-stand (instead of weird left-stand). This over-stresses our knees, hips and low back, etc. Our body uses these compensation techniques to make up for a flat-humped left diaphragm. 
Fundamentally, we twist our body-up to optimize our breathing, but we don't always do it in the mostly logical manner. Again, your lungs don’t care what it does to your body, so long as it can still breath; it's still a survival instinct. We go for the path of least resistance and easiest compensation for breath. How we compensate is different for everyone due to the varied physical demands we place on our body. To keep your breath moving, we use all sorts of compensatory muscles to open-up the lungs. Knee twist, hip twist, rib twist, shoulders twist, even our jaw twists. However, the more we twist, the more problems can manifest. So much so, lung capacity diminishes and blood pH gets off-kilter, the result can be migraines, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, just to name a few. 

The question becomes how do we untwist? That is what a PRI-specialist is trained to execute. Hruska and his team of credentialed PTs and degreed personal trainers have designed postural stability evaluations and exercise protocols to tailor the physical restoration to the needs of the client. Rehab consists of hands-on techniques, home practice, and lots (and lots) of breathing techniques (mostly by blowing-up balloons, this helps with oxygen pressure inside the lungs, and helps stabilize lumbar and pelvic control). 
The gamut of disease that PRI can help restore is varied and complex. It almost seems a bit like a miracle drug. In truth, this is not a magic yellow pill - PRI requires lifelong adaptation. Without regular practice, the body will instinctually return to the path of least resistance. Some mal-adapted physical patterns can be permanently rehabilitated and muscle fibers retrained. Yet other, different problems could manifest. It is the individuals responsibility to understand the core knowledge and adopt good, physical practices to encourage optimal functioning throughout their life-span. 

*Everything in this blog is based on my opinion and my interpretation of my PRI training. I am a translator of the material presented to me and my writings do not necessarily represent that of Hruska or PRI.