Most of the time when it comes to orthopedic issues health care professionals tend to focus on one area, the area of complaint. If the pain is at the knee the problem must be at the knee, so I should treat the knee. In a percentage of cases this works, but not in all cases. In cases where problems get better but not all the way or when an injury fails to respond as expected, looking at the body as a whole for dysfunction may be the answer.
Postural Restoration is a treatment approach to the body as a whole improving postural symmetry, orientation, stability and control. The Postural Restoration approach was developed by Ron Hruska Jr., MPA, PT. He developed a series of retraining exercises targeted to correct overpowering postural and movement patterns. In most cases treatment will start at the pelvis and hips and then move up into trunk, shoulder blade and arm. Programs are developed individually for each person to target their own personal asymmetries.
What type of asymmetries are therapists looking for? Visually we may see curvatures of the spine, uneven shoulder height, one lower extremity turning out more than the other, over or under developed muscles compared from side to side and many others. Also, testing flexibility, strength and ROM will reveal imbalances across the body and resting postural position. The final asymmetry a Postural Restoration trained therapist will look for is an imbalance in respiration.
Breathing is the most important musculoskeletal activity we do. The body will compensate anywhere it needs to in order to maintain respiration. When our posture becomes asymmetrical it can negatively affect the orientation of the diaphragm. Improper position of the diaphragm will limit ability to get full inhalation and exhalation. Typically, compensation for a diaphragm that is not working properly can occur through the cervical or shoulder musculature. With the neck now assisting in respiration it can create pain or dysfunctional movement. A proper breathing pattern is an important part of postural restoration exercises.
In summary, think of the human body like any other machine. Imagine your car’s alignment is off which causes your tire to wear unevenly and then to finally blow. You could try and patch the tire and when that fails replace the tire, but does that fix the real problem. How long until the new tire fails. Sometimes a tire blows because we drive over a nail, but other times there may be an underlying issue. If you’re experiencing a muscle or joint problem that has improved, but not completely or continues to reoccur consider Postural Restoration and looking at the impact the rest of the body is putting on your injury.
For more information, please contact Mary Lou Corcoran Physical and Aquatic therapy 315-637-4747.