“Neutrality” in Postural Restoration is a term that refers to a process of transition.
Neutrality is akin to a lack of commitment to one side or another. Rather, we find ourselves in the middle, able to respond to all circumstances. We aren’t commitment-less, mind you. We just aren’t overly biased one way or another. We can go to the left or the right with ease, depending on what circumstances demand (walking and running, for instance).
As any PRI-minded person understands, human design makes us favor our right side. So we have a rightward bias that never completely goes away.
However, we can dampen this rightward bias so that it no longer interrupts our ability to move effortlessly. We can train our body to “let go” of this rightward bias just enough so that we can fully get to our left side, thereby achieving Left AF/IR and a Left ZOA.
Having a bodily system that favors neutrality as our starting point, rather than a system who believes our right side to be the starting point, is what allows proper leftward shift to occur.
The process of returning to the transitional state of neutrality allows your body to shift its patterns of muscular activation so that you can move.
If you are not biased towards neutrality, you are most likely biased towards the Left AIC, Right BC, Right TMCC pattern, which is the normal state of affairs when our body weight is placed on the right foot. We are rightward biased.
When we move our weight to the left foot, and our patterns don’t switch to Right AIC, Left BC, Left TMCC, we have a system that isn’t neutral. We have a right lateralized system. The chains of muscles that put all the bones of our body into a position of right stance do not adequately turn off to allow us to shift ourselves to the left.
At this point we aren’t moving like humans should.
An important thing to remember is because life is movement, and human movement happens in three planes of motion, we will probably never be completely neutral. As we move we are in a constant state of transition. Life itself consists of a series of transitions. Time never stops. It flows from one moment to the next, never standing still.
The body works the same way. Just the fact that we breathe means that we are never wholly neutral, even when we are lying on the couch sleeping. Muscle activation never stops. Beneath the level of our normal consciousness we still subtly pulse, rock, expand and contract. Sit in meditation and you’ll become acutely aware of these micro-movements.
For practical purposes neutrality means that we can accomplish a state of affairs that permits full range of motion as displayed by PRI tests.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are able to fully use these ranges of motion, just that our body will permit them.
To accomplish this state (or perhaps it’s more accurately described as a non-state) we generally have to inhibit the overactive chain of muscles that reflect right stance: the Left AIC, Right BC, Right TMCC chain.
PRI testing shows whether we are still in a state of right stance when in a resting position. It shows whether the Left AIC/RBC/RTMCC has sufficiently disengaged to allow for frontal plane shifting to the left and tri-planar movement through the thorax and neck.
If your testing is positive (not in a good way), then the goal is to use PRI repositioning techniques to inhibit this overactive chain of muscles, thereby allowing the body to assume the theoretical state of neutrality from which it can effortlessly move left or right without restriction.
Importantly, neutrality isn’t the ultimate goal. We certainly want systemic neutrality, but this neutrality only allows for the potential of true tri-planar alternating activity.
Neutrality does not guarantee alternating activity to happen.
After achieving systemic neutrality, retraining lost movement patterns is essential to get our body moving again.