My wife and I met while both serving in the US Navy. During that time, we deployed three times over the course of 3 years. Each deployment lasted six to seven months with a six-month home return before another began. As one can imagine, this cycle of home and away was strenuous but an opportunity that wouldn’t be traded for the world. The rigors of military life can rear its ugly head especially when faced with hazardous, and sometimes, hostile situations. No one can truly prepare you for what you are about to experience, see, or feel. And often, for many of those servicemen and women, you don’t realize the toll deployments take on your mind and body as it becomes “normal” to feel and do certain things you hadn’t before. That became not only normal for me but my wife as well.
After returning home from our last deployment, my wife was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression, and experienced a leg injury that resulted in her walking with a cane at 23. Her chronic pain syndrome caused her body to overly react to stimulation by sending amplified pain signals throughout her body putting her entire system in “fight mode”. Every muscle, tendon, ligament in her body was under constant hold and tension. Countless doctors’ appointments of scans and testing came back inconclusive and the best course of action was decided on intense physical therapy. This would lead to my first experience with something like RPR.
During her treatment, I tried not to pry too much into her appointments. One day, she came home beaming and began to share an experience she had. Her therapist utilized a modality where he would place pressure on her third rib while asking her to rotate her arm at her shoulder. After doing this modality a few times, her adductors in the corresponding leg would release pressure and return to its at rest state. It sounded too good to be true until I attended the next handful of appointments with her and saw it for myself. Similar techniques would be performed over different parts of her body and her body would “relax” enough that she was able to do activities and exercises she was unable to perform just moments before.
Fast forward through her treatments and what lead me to RPR. After her 3rd surgery two years ago, we were exploring through YouTube when one of Cal Dietz videos came up about RPR. Watching his videos was nothing new for me. As a new strength and conditioning coach, I often watched his videos to learn about new methods and periodization but had never seen this. It was a video of someone with “weak” hamstrings. He tested their legs first, performed an RPR technique, (ed: this was a few years ago before we realized that you could teach someone to do the drills on themselves) and suddenly their hamstrings were more reactive and stronger. We both looked at each other in disbelief and quickly tested each other. Sure enough it worked and we were reminded of seeing something like this before. I wanted to know more and began researching more about RPR and it led me to me to its classes.
In the Level One course, I learned how to implement RPR in a group setting with my athletes. As a “see it to believe it” type of guy I not only wanted to know how it worked but needed to see it in practice beyond my limited knowledge. Our instructor walked us through every question, concern, example, we had and showed us how to implement it. For me, the Level One course reassured me of the work and results I had seen with my wife through her treatments but the real kicker- the “aha” moment for me- was what happened in Level Two Course. For me, it was unbelievable and life-changing.
The Level Two course teaches you how to narrow down specific areas to each individual needs. Our class took some time to find out where each person’s “spot” was and learnt the why. One of mine, because of my constant gum chewing, was my jaw. Every person was able to use an RPR method to reset and correct their spot and it was great to see the joy and relief we all found. I must credit our instructor, Jeff, who enabled and emboldened us through his passion for helping others. He never forced anyone to do anything they weren’t comfortable with. I say that because I wasn’t comfortable performing a specific test around others and Jeff stayed after to work with me some more.
I mentioned at the beginning the rigors of serving our country. Like my wife, I experienced my own troubles after deployment but often suppressed mine. I’ve dealt with anxiety, constantly feeling on guard with my head on a swivel, and my biggest trouble was being able to sleep through the night because of it. When I say sleep through the night, I don’t mean the occasional bouts of restless nights or being about to sleep at least six hours. For at least four years, I was only getting two or three hours of sleep at most a night and unable to go back to bed once I awoke. I tried everything I could to remedy this on my own from changing my diet and workouts, to therapy and sleeping pills, and even alcohol. It became normal for me to have a bottle of wine a night just to get to bed. I would always be too hot, would wake up in a sweat and not be able to fall back asleep. I was willing to try anything for a full night of undisturbed sleep.
I expressed this to Jeff and asked if there was anything he would recommend. After the course was over and the other attendees departed, we began working together to get me to “relax”. After we performed the RPR I had an indescribable feeling. My body felt strange and different- not what I would call “normal”. Everything from my vision to my breathing felt and was different than before. Even as I walked around, I noticed a change. I had been sweating all day and suddenly was cold. I couldn’t express the way I was feeling and even now I would say it was a sort of out of body feeling. Jeff and I exchanged contact information and he told me to let him know how I felt the next day.
When I got back to my hotel room, I FaceTimed my wife to tell her about my experience. I still couldn’t put into words what I felt or was feeling but as we talked, I started to feel tired. My wife is usually the early bird in bed by 9 pm and I never could sleep that early so I would stay up until I got tired around 1 to 2 am and be up again at 4 or 5 am. That night, I fell asleep on the phone with her at 8 pm and I slept for 11 straight, undisturbed hours. My only reason for wakening was the sound of laughter in the hotel hallway. But I wasn’t even mad. I felt more rested than I could remember in a long time.
That night’s rest seemed too good to be true so I began to “test” this reset. I would try sleeping without performing RPR on occasion to make sure it wasn’t something else. Each of the nights I didn’t do RPR before bed I wouldn’t be able to sleep a whole night and was back to sleeping my usual two to three hours. Yet, when I did RPR I would sleep through the night. Now, every night I do RPR before bed and my sleep has vastly improved.
Knowing and seeing the improved quality of life for myself has made me a firm believer in the benefits of RPR. My wife uses it as well and has found her Fibromyalgia pains to have lessened. The benefits it has given us has made me a huge advocate of its use. As a strength coach, I strive to make my athletes better not just physically but mentally as well. I’ve used it on my NFL, CFL, and NCAA athletes and they have shared the same experience as me. They have seen positive improvements in their training, performance, and recovery. Now I’m not saying it’s a cure all, but RPR is certainly a great tool for everyday use and for athlete performance. I can honestly say that it has changed mine and my athlete’s quality of life and I’m thankful for Jeff and the rest of the staff for sharing their knowledge with me.
Mike Bequette B.S. CSCS, RPR Level II