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Tag: frontal plane

Course Recap: PRI Advanced Integration Day 2

This is part II in a four part series. All parts have all been published, so here is part I, part II, part III, and part IV.

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Day 2: Triplanar Activity

Day two was all about frontal and transverse integration and consisted of great presentations from Mike Cantrell and Lori Thomsen. I can’t say enough good things about these two.

I’ve met Mike before and there is not a single person in this world that cares more about teaching you than he does. I like to think that I am similar, but this dude blows me out of the water.

I had the pleasure of finally meeting Mrs. Lori Thomsen during Advanced Integration. She may not think she’s funny, but some of the most hilarious antics I have ever been a part of went down that weekend. And they were all her doing. Very excited to welcome her to her new home away from home in Indianapolis when she comes to teach the Pelvis course in March (you better be there).

I’m going to break this day down by each of the speakers and some of the highlights they had to say.

DISCLAIMER: this post will reference PRI tests. If you are unfamiliar with them, you will be lost.

The biggest take home point is that pathology occurs when you can’t maintain flexion while moving in the frontal and transverse planes.

Lori Thomsen

For those who are unfamiliar with PRI, they have three foundational courses: the leg course (Myokinematic Restoration), the arm course (Postural Respiration), and the pelvis course (Pelvis Restoration).

Lori put together the pelvis course, so she went through the pelvis tests with us.

  • The Adduction Drop Test: can the left innominate of the pelvis get to neutral?
  • The Pelvic Ascension Drop Test: can the left innominate extend? Can I get into stance phase of gait?
  • The Passive Abduction Raise Test: can my innominate get into swing phase?

Important clarification: these tests tell me a lot of things in addition to the bullets listed above. I will not go into all possible presentations and what they mean. It is helpful for me, however, to think of these tests in terms of the gait cycle as Lori presented them.

Moving on, we talked about PECs. This acronym signifies a person who uses their back a lot.

DEFINITION. PEC: posterior exterior chain of muscles; person with these muscles facilitated.

This PEC pattern drives extension. Very active people often fall into this category because strong backs lead to strong people. The purest example of a PEC is a 100m sprinter.

You may not want to take that away from a competing athlete because it may make them slower. If they need greater movement variability (i.e. their sport/activity has more frontal and transverse plane demands), they probably need to learn how to shut down that PEC.

Some PECs are just locked up, and Lori suggested using alternating activities to help free these people up. The caveat, however, is that they need to have at least a 1/5 on the Hruska Adduction Lift Test, or else they don’t have abs for alternating.

After the PEC is inhibited, the person regresses to a left AIC or to neutral.

DEFINITION. Left AIC: left anterior interior chain of muscles; L diaphragm, L psoas, L iliacus, L vastus lateralis, and L biceps femoris; drives contralateral stance phase.

Made on Note that the left anterior interior chain is only the left half of the diaphragm.

DEFINITION. Neutral: “the human body posture is in a position in which a set of muscles [left AIC, right BC, and right TMCC] is disengaged.” (AI 2014 manual, p. 78)

Lori also went through the Respiratory Adductor Pullback non-manual technique and explained how it was a frontal plane exercise. This was an AH-HA! moment for me because it has always looked like a transverse plane exercise to my feeble mind. The following picture diagrams the exercise for those of you who are familiar with it. Basically, we “inhale and pull back” to put the exhaled left posterior outlet in a state of greater inhalation, and we “exhale and push the knee down” to put the inhaled left anterior inlet in a state of greater exhalation. This allows the pelvic diaphragm to rise on the left and helps us achieve stance phase on the left side.

respiratory adductor pullback

Lastly, there was another brilliant takeaway in coaching wall squats: If they can’t feel their quads, they’re using their backs.

The “hips back” cue is becoming more and more scarce in my coaching.

Seriously, Lori is fantastic. Can’t wait to see more of her at IFAST in March.

Mike Cantrell

Before we get too far into what he talked about during Day 2 of the course, I want to mention that Mike received an award for being such a great teacher. Nobody is more deserving than this man.

Cantrell award

cantrell award speech

Mike started by asking us if we though SI fusion was usually a good strategy for treatment. The class consensus was no, at least before trying less invasive treatment.

“Why are ya’ll fusing SI joints then?”

He then talked about the “posterior gluteus medius” for a long time. I put it in quotes because it was really a talk about the frontal plane.

“The dirty little secret of PRI is that we’re not good at right stance either.”
-Mike Cantrell

We are not good at getting to the left, which makes us bad at left stance, but we’re also OVERlateralized to the right, making us bad at right stance.

Summary of this talk: if your right glute max doesn’t put you in your left hip, you’re just fusing an SI joint.

He also broke down the Hruska Adduction Lift Test, going through all of the frontal plane for which you could ever ask. Sometimes you just need to put them in sidelying and WATCH THEM SWEAT.

Here’s a sweet picture of that talk.

Frontal plane


After day two, an unnamed accomplice helped us break into Ron’s office that night, where a few of us abused his desk.

After days of heavy information, travel, and other matters, this break for laughter was much needed. I am eternally grateful to have been a part of this.

Though I think the gold is supposed to be a secret, this picture shows how funny it was:

shirt is too funny


One of the things that sets PRI apart from other courses is their ability to teach. There’s a whole section in the Advanced Integration manual where you color a bunch of anatomy by what “family” they are in.

  • Sagittal
  • Frontal – Adduction
  • Frontal – Abduction
  • Transverse
  • IR

This instructor-guided color coding helps you understand the integration of anatomy so well.

I was just talking about this yesterday with my coworker Jae Chung, but anatomy is one of the more difficult pieces of this model to understand. With this difficulty, however, comes a huge payoff which cannot be overvalued.

Day 2 Conclusion

Think in the frontal plane. And learn your anatomy.

…And have fun sometimes.

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Don’t get thrown ON THE GROUND!

During our training session over the weekend, I happened to randomly conjure up a few new cues.

As you may know, it is of utmost importance that your programming address stability in all planes.

To consider why you should train frontal plane stability, imagine your favorite contact sport. If someone attacks you from the side, frontal plane stability will keep you up and moving on. If you lack it, you’ll be thrown on the ground like a phone in a Lonely Island video. You can’t trust the system.*

If that joke lost you, watch this video after you’re done reading this post.

Moving on, the scenario involved Pete, a new intern at IFAST, and his 12″ step ups. His concentric (the stepping up) looked great, but he would “sag” into his working hip as he lowered himself back down.

So first I had to ask myself, “What are the options to make this look better?” I can either coach him out of his mistake, or we regress the exercise. Always try to coach them out of their mistakes first, and regress them only if you are unsuccessful. A lot of things come into play here, such as the client’s mobility, stability, and overall athleticism. Pete comes from a highly athletic background, so his capacity to control his movement will be much greater than the hypothetical housewife who has never played a sport in her life.

Next, I examined the problem asking myself, “What movements are happening?” His “sagging” caused adduction of the right hip, and a lengthening of the left ab wall, among other things. Now there are many possible causes for this, such as weak left obliques, overactive right quadratus lumborum, or weak right hip abductors. It’s important not to get caught up in muscles and instead focus on the movement when coaching. This is why the fitness industry has adopted the adage “train movements, not muscles”. The success ratio is much higher when evaluating movement.

After determining that, I decided we should try to get his trailing leg some stability and maybe that would clear things up. Luckily (or not), the problems went away and his movement looked much better.

I came up with the following two cues to improve frontal plane stability in Pete’s step up.

  1. Tapping the trailing leg’s heel.This is good for cuing the glutes to turn on.
  2. Pulling on the trailing leg itself. This is good for getting the left ab wall to turn on, as well as promoting a “suction” motion of the hip into the acetabulum (the socket).

Both seemed to work quite well, according to my eyes (a.k.a. Zach Moore). I would venture to guess that giving him an offset load of, say, 8kg in his right hand would also reflexively fix his stability, and that’s what we’re going to try next time.

One last point to address is the offset loading I just discussed. Why would we want to do that when the other cues have already worked?

  1. Less coaching intensive.With these two cues, I was behind Pete, pulling on his leg or tapping his heel, while Zach stood in front of him looking for a change. 2 trainers to 1 client is not a favorable ratio for making money and utilizing your time efficiently. Similarly, if the offset load works, he may not even need a coach for the most part.
  2. Adding a load.Our main goal with Pete is to groove the correct motor patterns before overloading him. 8kg is a very moderate load that will not tax the strapping young lad much at all, but it will introduce another factor for his body to combat.
  3. Did I mention you don’t have to coach him anymore?

That’s all I have for you today, but I’ve heard through the grapevine that Zach Moore has a blog coming up that will really dial home the idea of frontal plane stability, so be sure to keep an eye out for that. The dude continually puts out great content.

Until next time, happy training!

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