Everybody, Never, & Always

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I mentioned yesterday that I had to head into the facility a littler earlier than usual because we were taking part in a pretty baller staff in-service revolving around some of the key principles and ideologies behind the Postural Restoration Institute.

While trying to squeeze their philosophy into one sentence or paragraph would be doing it a huge disservice, if I had to give a quick ten second “elevator pitch” on what their schtick is and what they’re all about, I’d say:  it’s about breathing!  Or, to be more precise, it’s about how most of us suck at it.

Like, really bad.

It’s about understanding that symmetry – as much as we try to attain it, and think that it exists – probably ain’t gonna happen.  Taking even a step further, it’s recognizing that we’re inherently designed in such a way where assymmetry is inevitable, and that how we breath plays a major role in that.

PRI tries to teach people how to breath more efficiently, which in turn, in conjunction with their corrective modalities, will help attempt to bring them back to neutral.

Like I said, trying to summarize everything into some pseudo Cliff Notes blog post isn’t even going to scratch the surface.  In fact, after listening and watching Michael Mullin drop knowledge bombs for two hours I pretty much felt like that evil Nazi from Raiders of the Lost Arc:

Having thoroughly had my face melted, it’s safe to say I had a lot of information and dialogue to digest.

Thankfully (and to his credit) Michael was a phenomenal speaker and presenter and was able to take all the complicated goobely gook and water it down so that we could follow along and appreciate the general picture.

In a way, he took what was equivalent to rocket science and made it seem more like long division.  And, you know, he provided handouts, which sorta helped.

Out of all the nuggets that Michael provided however, there was one phrase which really struck a chord with me, and it was something that he blurted out nonchalantly and without any fanfare at the very start of his talk.

Michael noted that he has been practicing for over 20 years, and has been studying (and practicing) PRI for twelve.  When he first stumbled upon it, he tried everything in his power to DISCREDIT it.  To him, he couldn’t quite understand how something so profound didn’t hit his radar screen sooner.  How could something that made this much sense not be discussed or talked about more in the therapy world?

Anyways, Michael went on to say that he’s always apprehensive whenever someone uses the words Everybody, Never, and Always.

He wasn’t there to “sell” PRI to us, and he immediately noted that it’s not the only modality he utilizes with his clients.  He was very much of the mindset that it’s in everyone’s best interest to “cherry pick” a little from this or a little from that, and decide what’s a good fit FOR YOU and YOUR clients.

Speaking on the assessment side of things for example, I try not to back myself into one corner or follow one train of thought.  I’ll take a little from the FMS, a little from the NASM train of thought, and even a little from Assess and Correct.

The point is:  there should be no one set way in anything.

To that end, he noted that whenever he hears someone start spewing out the words Everybody, Never, and Always, his bullshit meter starts flashing (my words, not his).

Not coincidentally this is the exact mentality that pervades much of the fitness and nutrition community.  A few candid examples:

Everybody should lift heavy.

Everybody should perform yoga.

You should never eat a carb past seven o’clock.

One should never allow your knees go past your toes when squatting.

Always avoid spinal flexion.

We should always eat breakfast.

Everyone should always make certain that they never listen to anything Tracy Anderson says (or stick their finger in an electrical socket).*

It’s human nature – we like to abide by absolutes, and there really aren’t any that exist in the fitness world, or in the “real” world for that matter. Except, you know, that last example, of course.

But lets take the above list and test it out:

Everybody should lift heavy.

  • I realize that heavy is subjective here, but bear with me. What if they’re not concerned with lifting as much weight as humanly possible?  What happens if they’re a complete newbie?  Should they still lift heavy?

Everybody should perform yoga.

  • Not if they’ve got a chronic history of congenital laxity or disc injuries – that’s the last thing they probably need.

You should never eat a carb past seven o’clock.

  • Okay Oprah, settle down.  The human body doesn’t just miraculously shut down its metabolism once Jeopardy comes on.  What happens if someone generally trains later at night?  Should they not eat afterwards?

One should never allow your knees go past your toes when squatting.

  • I guess every Olympic lifter in history had it wrong.

Always avoid spinal flexion.

  • Flexion IS a normal human movement pattern.  Loaded spinal flexion is one thing, but to tell someone to always flexion in general is a bit overkill. What happens if you’re working with someone who lives in extension?  Wouldn’t it be prudent to encourage a little more flexion to get them back to a more neutral position?

We should always eat breakfast.

  • Or what?  We’ll die off?  My god, what did our ancestors do back in the day?  They couldn’t have possibly gone more than seven hours without eating!!!!!!

Listen, I’m not saying that I don’t do it – I do!  I certainly have my biases.  For example, I feel everyone should deadlift at least once a week.

Now which type of deadlift is a different notion altogether, but you get the idea.

I also feel that if you have a history of shoulder issues – especially dislocations – you should never perform a dip.  Like ever.

And I also think it’s kind of important for people to always stay hydrated.

Simultaneously, those three ubiquitous examples aside, I do feel I do a pretty bang up job of not leaning too far to the left or right on any given topic.  With few exceptions, I feel there’s a time and place for everything – yes, even leg presses (as much as it pains me to admit it). And I’d encourage everyone reading to foster the same approach.

Especially as it relates to fitness and nutrition.

Summarizing: Don’t be an a-hole and think you know it all or that your way is the only way.  Unless your name is Gandalf, get over yourself…..;o)

* = or listen to Coldplay.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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