Rick Olderman – The Confluence of Yoga & Physical Therapy

Check out the most recent episode of Native Yoga Toddcast with Rick Olderman. You can visit Rick at his website https://rickolderman.com. Enclose is the transcript from an excerpt of our conversation. You can listen to the entire episode for free here.

Todd McLaughlin

Welcome to Native Yoga Toddcast. I’m thrilled that you are here and excited to introduce to you Rick Olderman. Rick is a physical therapist, personal trainer and Pilates instructor. He’s authored several books, and he speaks and teaches people in this trade. I’m going to link all of the information in the show notes below, the easiest way to get a hold of them is to find him at rickolderman.com. I’ll put the links in where you can find his series of books that are available. Also, he has trademarked a method called Fixing You, which he has home courses, and basically a bunch of information for us as yogis, bodyworkers and professionals in these fields. So without further ado, let’s go ahead and get started. 

I’m really excited and honored to have Rick Olderman here with me today. Rick, how are you?

Rick Olderman

I’m great. Todd. I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.


Thank you. Can you tell me where you’re located?


I’m located in Denver, Colorado.


Nice. How’s the weather there right now?


You know, we had a really hot summer, but surprisingly it is cooling off a little bit. Now it’s only in the 80s. This past week has been unusually cooler considering it is still summer. 


That does sound nice. Yeah, very cool. I’m excited to have a chance to talk to you because you have a background in physical therapy, you own and run a clinic and are a personal trainer and a Pilates instructor. You’ve written books and you guest speak. And so one of the things I noticed when reading over your information is that after graduating from physical therapy school, you found that when you got out into the real world that you weren’t fully prepared for dealing with the pain that people experience. So I’m really excited to hear what you’ve learned over your years of work and research. On that note, what is some of the things you learned along the way that helped you to be able to successfully help people with their pain? What differs from your initial protocols to you current approach to pain management the you are utilizing?


Yeah, well, you know, prior to physical therapy school, I had back pain myself. And I thought, oh, I’m gonna go to PT school and get the insider secrets. And, you know, I was that guy who raised his hand. Anytime they asked for a volunteer for a back pain demonstration of some sort, I was just like, okay, fix my back, I am ready to go. But it never happened. And what I learned was that the focus in PT school was on the structures that become damaged, rather than why they become damaged. And so we were taught to treat those structures, rather than treat why they were damaged. And after, as you mentioned, after I graduated, that’s why I was feeling like a complete failure. Anybody who had any kind of chronic issue, you know, I can help sprains and strains. That’s pretty easy, but chronic issues, I was hit or miss. And so and it was because of this and my intuition was that we have everything to do with why we’re having pain. But that’s not how we’re taught in school. We’re just taught to look at the structures that are painful and treat those structures, make pain go away and done. Yet it didn’t work out in the real world. So that’s what led me on this journey. It’s really interesting figuring out the “why’s” behind pain.


And what what were the steps that you used and or took to discover the answer?


Yeah, well, it was very difficult as well you know. I was sunk into a deep depression because of it. Because I really thought this was my calling. And I couldn’t believe that there, there wasn’t a lot more information about the “why’s” in pain. But anyway, I discovered Dr. Shirley Sarmad, who is an instructor out of Washington University in St. Louis. And she is, her whole focus is movement impairments that create pain and how to solve those. And that was a great starting point. And then, along the road, I also uncovered Thomas Meyers’ work with Anatomy Trains, and Dr. Robert Treat’s work with fascia. And then also, lastly, I discovered Thomas Hanna’s work with neurological reflex patterns in the body that contribute to chronic pain. And it turns out that all three of these different researchers, unbeknownst to each other, pointed to the same three patterns of dysfunction that caused almost all back pain. And so what I did was I ended up integrating these and then adding more into it, because none of them really went into the movement habits that were creating these patterns of dysfunction. So that’s what I’ve been teasing out and doing in my clinic and for the last 25 years, and it’s been pretty successful. Yeah.


Wow, that’s amazing. Can you explain those three main characteristics that you saw each of these instructors or practitioners were teaching you?


Yeah. So, you know, Dr. Solomon’s work is known as a classic physical therapy where, you know, we analyze movement. We look at tight or weak muscles associated with that movement impairment. And then we fix those tight or weak muscles, and also change a little bit about how they’re moving. Because movement also creates tight or weak muscles, it works both ways. Right? Tight or weak muscles cause movement impairments and moving impairments cause tight or weak muscles. So you have to fix both of those things. And so that’s what her focus was. But I learned that I realized that while my outcomes became much better, they were limited. And so I started looking, you know, further away and thinking, hey, you know, there’s got to be something else here. And that’s when I discovered Thomas Myers, because we had been taught about fascia, but we hadn’t been taught in depth about fascia. And that’s when I discovered his Anatomy Trains. He teaches the fact that we have these super highways of fascia that run through a body. And they, we have a back line that runs from the head to the bottom of the foot. Same with a lateral line down the side, we have a spiral line, we have a front line of fascia. And all of these lines can be dissected as one contiguous piece of tissue from the body. So they’re all, you know, very connected. And fascia is connective tissue. But it’s also highly nervous innervated to as well. So then, after I read his book, I realized, oh, he helped me understand how things further away from pain could be along that line of fascia that I would need to address in order to solve pain, kind of like a spider web, you know, you can hit a little twinge, you know, a little piece of webbing further away from the center. But the spider in the center still feels that little twinge. And that’s the way it is in the body, too. Then I started treating things further away from the sources from where the pain was being experienced, and I had better outcomes. But then I also ran into these certain people that seemed to have a battery that was charging their bodies to create tension in these patterns of dysfunction that I was uncovering, and that’s what I learned about Dr. Thomas Hanna’s work. Again he identified the same three patterns of dysfunction. And his focus was on decreasing the neurological tension that’s been that’s charging these patterns of dysfunction. So combining all three of these, I was just like, boom, that’s when I really saw the miracles happening in my clinic. 

I highly recommend listening to the full podcast discussion. You won’t want to miss the rest of Rick’s story. Remember you can listen to the full episode for free here. https://nativeyogacenter.buzzsprout.com/950785/11318741-rick-olderman-the-confluence-of-yoga-and-physical-therapy

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