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Neuro-scientific Posturology – Poney Chiang and Annette Verpillot

Hi, welcome to today’s Facebook live [inaudible 00:01:08] show for American Acupuncture Council. My name is Poney Chiang, your host for today, and I’m coming from Toronto, Canada. I’m a continuing education provider, and acupuncture practitioner and herbalist. Today it is my honor to have the opportunity to interview our special guest for today, Annette Verpillot. Annette is a founder of a company called Posture Pro, a health company specializing in restoring the brain body connection. She’s a Canadian entrepreneur, therapist, public speaker and internationally recognized posture specialist.

Annette has developed some of the world’s most advanced rehabilitation and injury prevention techniques, and she teaches this method called Posture Pro to professionals in various fields. Her unique posture evaluation system is recognized throughout the world for eliminating chronic pain, increasing strength and improving sports proficiency. Through her teaching, speaking and research, Annette tackles global health issues and trains professionals to have a lasting impact on clients and patients. Thank you very much for joining us today, Annette.

Thank you so much Poney, for having me on the show. It’s a true honor and pleasure.

Can you tell us where you’re joining us from today?

I’m located in Montreal, Canada. You and I are not too far away from each other.

It’s only five, seven hours drive maybe.

Yeah, I prefer taking the plane. But yeah, it’s fairly close.

Yeah. So the reason why I wanted to invite you to our show today is that I understand that you have a very special way of addressing posture. And what fascinated me about your method is that you incorporate a lot of application of the understanding the peripheral nervous system, the central nervous system, and even using cranial nerves as such. Would you be able to tell us how did you become interested? Were you always interested in posture aspects or interested in neurological things?

Yeah. I come from a family of neurosurgeons that from France moved to Canada at the time when I was much younger. So I was raised in a medical environment where I would always listen to my aunt and uncle talk to my father about the latest in neuroscience. I was always very much interested in the medical field. I recently found a book of myself, a book that they had asked us to draw a picture of yourself of where you saw yourself in the future. And in this book I wanted to be a surgeon, a neurosurgeon, and then I found the picture. It was actually really quite funny. So I’ve always been, I guess indirectly involved, not really realizing it in the world of neuroscience, of course through my family.

But at the same time I was always very much involved in movement in sports and very quickly became aware of the aspect of movement and performance, and of course injury because I could remember my father saying to me, at the time I made it to the Games of Quebec, and he was like, you can’t go to this because the ultimate goal is for you to make it to the Olympics. This is how it starts, and by the age of 30 your body will be ruined. And I remember not being very sad about this because he literally interrupted the whole process. But now that I think back, I guess the myth of movement, and training, and athleticism and injury go hand in hand.

May I ask a what was your area of focus specialization in sports?

The 100 meter sprint was my specialty. No one can catch me.

Very impressive. I know it’s a very diverse, and broad and in depth topic, can you tell us a little bit about Posture Pro?

Yeah. So Posture Pro opened its doors in 2004. The idea was to combine training with rehabilitation. At the time I had studied different types of rehabilitation therapies to be able to accommodate my clients. I myself went through some injuries while I was training. I’ve always been involved in fitness and trainings as far as I can remember, and for me was something that was very important to be able to try to address injury. So of course I naturally learned rehabilitation methods and techniques to be able to apply them with my clients in practice. Very quickly realized that working manually was only providing temporary results, not really understanding why that was actually happening and kind of following the flow that everybody does. They teach us to do A, B, C, D when you find that there is different types of local problems, but I guess that part of the problem that eventually I came to realize was that they were not really telling us why the problem existed to begin with. So the cause behind the symptoms that we are taught to manage. So, a quick Google search kind of got me going on the way, and then associating myself with different professionals and specialists in their fields, really some of the best in their field as far as rehabilitation, to try to combine all of this knowledge together to create what we call today the Posture Pro Method.

Can you tell us a little bit about the approach or the rational in it, how is it different or what makes it more effective, for example?

Yeah. So combining the knowledge of neuroscience, and biomechanics and movement all together, but also the knowledge of how the brain develops in the first place in human beings and working with a method that allows us to kind of connect which brain part, brain, body connection parts are broken is what I find makes our method unique. We work on what we call specific sensory receptors. Yes, we do work with the eyes, obviously the cranial nerves that innovate the eyes. But where I think our strength lies is in all the links that we make within those different cranial nerves and the symptoms that we’re seeing in clinic with our clients, but also the fact that we address one component that I think is the missing link in most therapies, which is the weight bearing surfaces of the clients that we’re working with.

We never really take into account, I mean in North America when we talk about the feet, we tend to think of feet specialists or podiatrists, but in reality what we’re looking for is the way that this person learned how to walk in the first stages of their lives, which we know is ultimately between zero to 12 months of life, and the postural strategies then that the clients will then develop and the links between the symptoms that they’re presently experiencing, the posture that they have today and the brain connection or the broken brain connection, if I may say, that they are living with which are creating the symptoms that we are seeing in our practice on a daily basis. And this holds true for children as well as adults.

So there’s a lot of emphasis on the information inputs coming from the feet. You mentioned about the vision. What are some of other important inputs that you take the time to assess or provide exercises for?

Yeah. So another really interesting link is the position of the mandible, the position of the jaw, and how the actual stomatognathic system will develop how the motor acted, the tongue posture, if you wish, nasal breathing, all of that complex has the potential to influence head posture, position of the head on the shoulders, which will challenge your center of gravity. The ultimate goal for us, what makes us human as humans is the fact that we’re bipedal, and fighting this we’re constantly fighting against gravity. And how we fight gravity ultimately will dictate how much energy we have throughout our day. So for example, someone who has what dentists call a class two occlusion, which is where the upper teeth of the maxillary will cover the lower teeth by more than one third, this will bring about, how can I say, the mandible will move up and back pushing the head forward.

And this would be a permanent state of disequilibrium that the client would be living with, which we can very easily imagine how this can cause lower back pain. But there’s also missing teeth, there’s also tongue posture and there’s also many other links that could be made within the TMJ in itself. As well we work with pathological scars. This is any type of surgical intervention that someone may have had. We treat it with either essential oils or with laser therapy. Would love to learn about acupuncture. I know that acupuncture is absolutely phenomenal when it comes to pathological scars. But where we try to make the link is again with the symptoms that the client is experiencing and whether or not the scar is actually creating a postural, a muscular imbalance in the context of the session.

That’s very interesting. So you mentioned the tongue posture. Most of our listeners are acupuncturist, and we actually really love to diagnose each other’s tongue and our patients’ tongues. I think they would be very interested to be able to add a dimension of postural analysis from the tongue. You also talked about equilibrium. I was wondering if the vestibular or the years come into play in this system, or is more focused on jaws and other inputs?

No, we do absolutely consider the vestibular, the vestibular ocular reflex. But what we’ve tend to see is when we actually realign someone’s posture by working on their feet, we really always start with the two extremities, the sole of the feet, the eyes. Is there anything going on with the jaw? If there is, we must neutralize it. We like to work by process of elimination. What’s causing what? Is it the feet, is it the eyes? But we know that ultimately all of these sensory receptors together have the potential to affect our posture and our stability. So what we’re going to try to basically, how can I say, what we’re going to try to determine is, is the client clenching even? Are they excessively stressed? We know that stress is psycho-emotional. When I’m stressed, I’m going to clench my teeth. But some clients who are doing this or patients who are doing this on a daily basis are not fully aware of the negative impacts that this can have, not only on their posture, on their hormone production, but on all of the different physiological systems of the body, really.

Right. Fascinating. That’s definitely something, clenching and a tight muscles of mastication, temporalis muscles. Those are actually a lot of things that acupuncturists see on a daily basis. So I think there’s definitely a lot of opportunity for an acupuncturist to employ some of this diagnostics, perhaps even use that to not just reduce the stress and the pain, but actually improve posture from that. As you know, acupuncturists is kind of well known for treating pain, and now there is actually more of a movement in the acupuncture community where we’re trying to start to use acupuncture to affect neurological issues. So Parkinson’s diseases and stroke rehabilitation. And obviously there’s a lot of gate problems in these visuals, postural problems in these individuals. So that’s really why I became interested in your work. Could you help our fellow listeners understand how might your work or being an expert in posturology make them better at what they’re doing?

Yeah. Well I mean, as you know, Meridian’s is kind of like an energy highway that flows within our body, and if we look at the way that someone’s posture has developed, and I put the emphasis on this, because understanding how someone developed their postural strategies from the get go is a really important factor in determining where they are at today. So I’m not an acupuncturist, but it’s very easy to imagine and understand if someone has a forward displacement of their center of gravity, a lower shoulder, a rotated pelvis, vertebraes that are in a subluxed state 24/7, poor body posture, I mean in that context, can poor body posture affect the energy flow within our body? We know that it can affect many other factors from our sympathetic to parasympathetic, to our circadian cycle, digestion, blood flow, stress, and of course energy within our bodies. So I think there would be many benefits of incorporating the Posture Pro Method with any type of therapy, but also Meridian therapy and acupuncture because it will simply just enhanced and double the therapeutic effect. If someone’s posture is better aligned, you’re actually giving them the chance to be able to fully recuperate and tap in into that healing process that they have within themselves, and of course the natural flow of energy that we all have within us.

I’m just going to sprinkle a little bit of Chinese medicine terms for the benefit of our listeners. For us, we talked about points around the neck that are called window to the sky points. These points directly affect psycho and emotional presence and awareness in health. So you imagine how problems in your neck can actually cause psycho emotional issues. For acupuncturist thinking in terms of those points around the spine called the back shoot points which affect individual organs. So if you are having subluxations or you’re having abnormal curvatures, it would affect the energy aspect of the bladder Meridian or affect those back shoot points and they can actually cause internal somatovisceral problems. So I think knowledge of this posture analysis comes hand and hand with acupuncture, and I think there’s a lot of things to be excited about, about how we can actually combine these knowledge to actually improve our ability to help patients, both physically as a posture aspect, but also internal viscerally. Because after all, the nervous system is [inaudible 00:16:49] and she controls all of our autonomic systems also.

If I may just add to to what you just said, I very much appreciate the description that you just gave. So within this complex as we know, and again, from the method that we’re working with, if there’s a crossbite, for example, or poor breathing habits that have been acquired since the beginning of life, or eyes that are not tracking properly through the cranial nerves within the brainstem, we know that just these two components alone can affect the stability of our suboccipitals and C1 and C2, which hence can this have an impact on the energy flow? And as you’ve just explained, my guess is is that it can. So if we’re starting from the perspective that you can’t build a house on a crooked foundation, so trying to align structure as quickly, and as fast and as best as possible, 24 hours a day, seven days week, so this work is actually being done without you having to think about it when you work with a brain based approach. And then incorporating any other types of therapy, like acupuncture, is always at a greater benefit to the patient.

What you just mentioned gave me a couple of more ideas I want to share with our listeners. Eyes for Chinese medicine practitioners have very much to do with the liver and has to do something to call wind and movement. So isn’t it interesting that by analyzing eye movement, which we are basically looking at its connection to the liver and wind. So you can see how there’s a lot to the ancient teachings about how eyes have to do with wind, because by analyzing eye movement you have the entire ability to assess a nervous system, which a lot of nervous problems are due to wind, but also relationship to coming and going and movement issues. Tongue. Again, back to the eyes. Eyes are supposed to be where is the spirits or the from Shen emanates. So you can have added tools to assess the patient’s state of Shen and spirit.

Their tongue is supposed to be the opening of the heart. And so by looking at the tongue posture, you have an indirect way of gauge into the Chinese business date of the heart’s health. So these are all the thing that’s [inaudible 00:19:14] and I’m really looking forward to finding out and learning more about this from you. Now, I know you have a lot of experience working with athletes, working with people with chronic pain, and even children and developmental problems, people with central nervous system problems, and I would love to hear all your experience. But because of limitation of the time we have today, could you just share with us with one maybe from recently that you’ve seen that was really highlighted to the power of this method? Something that’s really meant a lot to you personally as a therapist, you’re really able to transform somebody. Or something’s just really neat and something that was very cool that even surprised you for so many years of practice. Just a story. Basically just tell us a story, we want a nice story.

Oh, I have many stories to tell you. What I love about the Posture Pro Method is that there is not a week that goes by where I don’t have shivers on my arms because we realize that we’re actually changing the lives of people. And when I say, we like to use the hashtag changing lives, is when you give someone the ability to be able to regain their pain free living and live a life free of pain so that they can enjoy their lives, that for me is the ultimate reward. The case that I could think of, the first case that I sat on for a long time was when I got contacted by someone called Diane Murphy, and this is going back maybe over 10 years. And she left a message at Posture Pro saying, I’ve just recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease stage one. I’ve tried everything, I’m desperate, please can you help?

And this was really the first case of Parkinson’s disease that I would ever encounter in my practice. And not knowing how far I can actually push the nervous system and really being afraid of the unknown, I didn’t respond to her call for three weeks. After the third week, I said to myself, Annette this is silly. Face your fears. The worst thing that can happen is that nothing happens and so be it. But at least try. And I did try. And I’ve put the video on my YouTube channel of that first consultation originally. Well, obviously the full consultation was recorded, but we trimmed it down to five to six minutes. Was the most rewarding moment that I ever had. You could hear Diane saying how her entire symptoms in the session completely disappearing. And funny enough, what did it the most for her was a scar that she had in her lower back.

So we proceeded in correcting the foot, we worked with the eyes, we actually looked at the jaw. We’re going through this in the video, we’re going through this step by step as we’re explaining what’s happening. But what really worked for her was, so we had to do all of that first, and then lastly we looked at the scar. I said to her, Diane, do you have any scars? And she goes, yes, I had lower back surgery years ago. And just by working on the scar she was like, her testimonial was overwhelming. I mean, I could not express it more how she was so verbal and expressive. So that was really one of the most ooh ha moments for me in my practice. And I’m lucky enough to say that these moments have followed and continued to follow every week of my life and in practice here. So this is, again, I’m so grateful to be on your podcast because ultimately I think that everyone should have the right to know what is out there and choose the best therapy treatment for themselves and for their loved ones really.

Thank you. That was a great, very heartfelt story. Unfortunately, due to time limitations we have to wrap up real soon. Could you give us a little appetizer or a little bit of amorous goose, a little bit of teaser, something that, I don’t know it’s very complicated or if it’s even possible, but something that is a little technique or something like that we might start to incorporate and to get us to see the power of posturology?

Yeah. So doing simple eye exercises as I demonstrated in my Ted Talk, which consists of doing simple circles and trying to converge, trying to focus on a specific target as your eyes are moving in 360 degrees. Some people find that very challenging. If they feel dizzy while they’re doing it, simply just pull away the finger and continue doing those eye exercises. This a great way to start working out your eyes on a daily basis. And quite frankly, I think it should be incorporated in for everyone. Regardless of the context, I think everyone should work out their eyes in the morning when they wake up.

I think I’ll also add to that, being aware of whether or not you clench your teeth. I love to have people become aware, just awareness of whether or not the teeth are in constant contact by putting red dots on the wall, and when you see the dot in that moment, you will say to yourself, are my teeth touching? And if they are, simply taking a moment to just stop whatever you’re doing if you can, position your tongue on top of your palette, hold it there with your lips closed and breathe for one minute. I think that doing those two things already is a great way to calm your parasympathetic, your sympathetic system down. Tap into parasympathetic, give yourself a break, disconnect. And of course if you retrain your eyes, you’re also retraining your muscular system.

Thank you very much. So if people out there would like to learn more about your methods and your teachings, where can we go to find out more about this information?

Our website is posturepro.co, and we’re very active on social media. We post daily tips, and specifically before and after cases on our Instagram channel, which you can find us very easily at @posturepro. Same address for Facebook.

Great. Thank you very much for joining us today, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Thank you so much, Poney. It was a pleasure meeting you.

I look forward to studying with you soon in the very near future.

God bless.

Thank you.



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