Course Review: Primal Movement Chains

Course Review: Primal Movement Chains

We attended a course by Dr. Perry Nickleston of Stop Chasing Pain in Auckland at the start of November! With a strong background in movement Dr. Perry gave us some of his insights into movement in and out of his practice as a chiropractor. This was the first time this course was held in New Zealand. The course was attended by clinicians, physiotherapists, osteopaths, personal trainers and just normal everyday people who wanted to know how to be better!

We have a chat with Dr Perry Nickelston before his Primal Movement Chains course about movement and back pain

Right from the get go, the course was refreshingly different in that there we NO CHAIRS!! A big part of "human movement" was the amount of sensory information that we get from surfaces we locomote on, namely the ground. Hence, we were as close to the ground as we could get. In addition, the first thing we did was to remove our socks and shoes, once again to optimise sensory feedback from the ground! 

Although Perry had many slides and topics ready for discussion, the course was an open canvas for discussion and movement as opposed to a more rigid structure of a course. While the crux of the course remained, Perry tried to cover more than what was given in the course manual and slides, giving us an insight to his broader clinical perspective.

The RAIL system was a centerpiece of the course and how Perry structures his treatment: Release, Activate, Integrate, Locomotion.

Release refers to the treatment that many clinicians do already such as dry needling, massage, foam rolling, manipulation. However, there were a few other "key areas" to release/work on, in addition to local tissues.

Activate refers to activating the local tissues, which Perry does by activating certain neurolymphatic/Chapman reflex points.

Integrate as the name suggests, puts it all together through diaphragmatic breathing and ground based movements and posture, enhancing stability and motor control.

Locomotion further "locks" in the work we had done - ground-based movement - into movement on two feet which is that we do most.

In the course manual and videos there were specific RAIL systems to treat depending on dysfunction and presenting symptoms, however, as Perry repeatedly emphasized, the diaphragm RAIL was by far the most important one. Hence, Perry primarily focused and demonstrated the diaphragm RAIL. In saying that Perry also went through some tests that can test the other RAILS such as the torque test and the application of the sharpened Rhomberg test in different situations. There was a significant amount of resources in his online material as well.

In terms of musculoskeletal perspective, Perry gives a deeper insight into how our body moves and how each and individual muscle may work together day-to-day to produce our normal movements and how our primal movements build up to one of the most complicated tasks ever: walking.

One thing we found really interesting was that musculoskeletal and joint aspects of his treatment do not rank high up in importance on his list. Much higher up on the list were emotions, lymphatics and the organ system; things that many practitioners in the musculoskeletal field are not used to dealing with.

As an example, Perry explained that inflammation in the lymphatics, nerves or organs (e.g. liver) near the diaphragm would affect breathing, because the body does not want to put more pressure onto the already inflamed organ. This can affect breathing as it affects the diaphragm – a muscle close to the inflamed organ.

Similar principles can be applied to other parts of the body; if there is inflammation nearby, the joint or muscle will not want to move. Similarly, emotions can affect movement and breathing which in turns affect our biomechanical body. Don’t forget other parts of the body, not just muscles, joints and bones!

A pretty awesome part of the course was having Perry's mentor, Dr Phillip Beach , an Australian osteopath now based in Wellington, New Zealand. We were privileged to have Dr Beach share some of his insights in his own research and practice as well! It was really amazing to have two rockstars in their fields at one course together. In addition, their humbleness in sharing their knowledge was inspiring. 

All in all, the Primal Movement Chain tries to cover the fundamental movements that we developed before we begin to stand and walk which addresses many aspects that some would opt to skip as part of a rehabilitation program. However, Perry went above and beyond to cover other aspects of recovery beyond musculoskeletal; which may or may not be applicable to you (depending on your clinical field), but it does give us a broader perspective to health and movement. In the past, you may have heard people say: “The body is not just bones and joints, there’s muscles that moves those too.” Well now, let’s not forget there are nerves, lymphatics, organs and the whole thing is being driven by a person with emotions too!

The Primal Movement Chains course was definitely a very refreshing course, and being keen learners, we loved how he went outside the normal "sphere" and opened our eyes to so much more than what we were usually exposed to. We have always loved being on courses with other clinicians and this was no different! We have made many new friends and established more connections who have similar philosophies and thought processes with us.

Learning is a never ending journey and this course has further enriched us as holistic practitioners. Thanks once again for coming Perry!