When I started taking the courses from the Postural Restoration Institute, I started gaining a huge appreciation of the axial skeleton. At the time, I thought I knew a lot about breathing, but after their courses, my understanding of breathing mechanics went to the next level.
I learned that I couldn’t make assumptions about the rest of the body without taking in consideration the rib-cage and respiration.
Visual assessments like watching someone squat, lunge, walk, and move around all had a purpose, but it didn’t help me with individualizing a protocol that would increase my client’s movement variability. And since 80-90% of my clients are post-rehab or in chronic pain, chasing movement variability is a pretty high priority.
When I run my clients through 1-2 breathing activities/correctives/resets/whatever you want to call it, I want them to have a purpose, I want there to be a reason behind it, and I want them to produce a change. The last thing I want is for my client to waste their time doing something that doesn’t get them closer to the results they want.
With that said, I’m kind of obsessed at getting better at choosing the right activities for my clients that produce the biggest change to minimize the amount of time they spend on “breathing exercises”. The better I get at being precise with my exercise selection that faster I progress people to the training floor, and the less coaching I have to do.
Last year, on an exciting Saturday night cuddling with my cats and getting my continuing ed for the week, I watched one of Bill Hartman’s videos on Ifast University where he introduced me to the concept of measuring someone’s infrasternal angle (ISA).
With checking someone’s ISA, you could start making some assumptions of what stage of respiration someone was in, and what exercise selection would get the biggest bang for your buck. Not only what Bill was teaching seemed pretty promising, but as a coach, it was a great assessment that I could quickly do on the training floor. It takes three seconds, you don’t need a table, and you can individualize your client’s training to the next level. I don’t know about you, but my clients pay a lot of money for individualized training.
After watching that video, I was ready to upgrade my clients training, so I started checking people’s ISA.
and here’s a warning, you’re going to fuck it up many times. You’re going to have to practice.
You’re going to test someone’s ISA one day and it’ll be wide as fuck, the next day it’ll be narrow as fuck, and you’ll wonder “how the fuck did I fuck that up?!”.
All these things take practice. When I took my 5th PRI course a couple of years ago, I decided it was time to start implementing their assessment into my eval. I sent out an email to over 150 clients letting them know that Dave and I needed practice, and over the course of two months we went through 80 assessments. We failed many many many times. We over explained the assessment to clients and completely lost them. We didn’t successfully coach a client through the basics and got no results. We failed to make the breathing and assessment meaningful for the client and lost their buy-in.
Through all those fuck ups, we got better. Nowadays, successful movement assessments where I get the outcome the client wants far outweigh my failed ones with little to no results.
If you’re going to start testing someone’s ISA and individualize people’s warm-up and core activities in their training, just be ready to fail many times before you start getting consistent results. Practice on your favorite clients, your family, your staff, and friends before you make it part of your new client eval or clients that don’t like all the weird breathing stuff.
So what is the Infrasternal Angle, and how to do you measure it?
I’ll let Zac Cupples explain it to you
In the following video Bill Hartman gives you an amazing visual on the differences between a narrow and wide ISA
If you want to learn more about it, check out the following debriefs.
Here are a few quick modifications you can do depending on your findings:
Narrow ISA Warm Up:
Wide ISA Warm-up:
What about an Asymmetrical ISA?
What kind of modifications can you do with these people??
If this was your first time hearing about the ISA, I know this can get confusing. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, every time I think I understand it, I learn more about it and realize how much I don’t get it. If it’s your first time hearing cues like exhale, reach, and tuck, get ready to struggle getting clients to do it correctly. People SUCK at moving.
When it comes down to it, it’s not my knowledge or my understanding on the ISA and respiration that are producing the results. It’s my ability to coach my clients into super basic movements, my ability to progress in all three planes, and going beyond 90/90 and quadruped.
If you’re struggling with the coaching part, start by following people that are extremely good coaches, who are actually practicing on a daily basis, and not camped out online never coaching people in person.
The good news: I know a lot of people that are world class coaches 🙂
Follow these people on social media, bookmark their website, mimic what they’re doing, learn from their coaching, steal their cues, and start getting better results with your clients!
more good news: I know of some courses you should think of taking
The Human Matrix with Zac Cupples. This event will teach you EVERYTHING you need to know to be able to assess and coach your client through all of this. You. need. to. go. to. this!
Rethinking The Big Patterns by Pat Davidson. Let Pat take your knowledge base to the next level. Pat is my favorite person in the industry as of late…mostly because I thrive to be just as honest and blunts as he is.
IFAST University. That’s where I was first introduced to the ISA assessment. I’ve been following these guys since I started training. They’ve always had a huge influence in how I train.
All of the primary courses from the Postural Restoration Institute.
Here are a few quick videos if you want to learn how breathing can affect movement and why you really should think of getting into this whole “breathing” craze:
Maybe you’re on in the industry and you are just interested in all this stuff….You have to check out Bill Hartman’s book ALL GAIN, NO PAIN: The over-40 Man’s Comeback Guide to Rebuild Your Body After Pain, Injury, or Physical Therapy. (Even if you’re a female or someone under 40, it’s still an amazing book)
I hope all of this was helpful <3
Over the next few weeks I’ll be talking about how to coach ALLLL these movements
Until next time 🙂