Physical therapist takes new approach to healing
October 7, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After 25 years working as a physical therapist in Steamboat Springs, Stephanie Loomis sold her old practice and started a new venture unique to the Yampa Valley.
She still offers many of the same physical therapy services, but now incorporates yoga.
As she took additional classes and worked toward new certifications, Loomis realized yoga and traditional physical therapy can do a lot to complement each other in the healing process.
Loomis focuses on restorative yoga, which emphasizes relaxation.
For some patients, it's helping them heal so they can return to practicing yoga.
She frequently encounters someone with a back injury who wants to go back to yoga but needs specialized guidance to do so safely.
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For others, it's using alignment based yoga to help them recover.
Building poses that use blocks, blankets and other equipment, Loomis helps her patients "float," finding positions in which their bodies can completely relax.
"It's dramatic how healing it is," she said.
It takes 10 minutes for the body to actually relax, she said. She will often keep people in positions for 20 minutes.
The applications vary widely. For one patient who came in with TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction), simply calming the body and mind was an effective first step in treatment.
She also specializes in vestibular issues (dizziness) and concussion recovery, both of which restorative yoga can assist in treating by calming the brain.
But Loomis emphasizes that she is not a yoga instructor, and she doesn't use yoga techniques as a treatment if it isn't appropriate.
"It's not all yoga," she said. "But, I want the opportunity to be there."
In her one room office, it is a different approach to the noisy gym she's spent so much time in and one that she is enjoying immensely.
She's still fundamentally a physical therapist, focused on the science of how the body works. But now, she has discovered that simply getting the body to relax can play a huge part in healing.
It's adding an infusion of yoga into her decades of practice as a physical therapist.
Settling the mind can be equally powerful for some issues, Loomis has found.
Loomis' specialty in treating patients experiencing vestibular problems is also not easily found elsewhere in town.
She has a large diagram of an ear on the wall and explains how "crystals" can become dislodged and how she helps people learn movements to get them back into the right place.
Much of what Loomis helps people with can be replicated at home, coming up with exercises and taking photos of poses so they are able to continue recovery on their own.
Loomis Restorative Physical Therapy is located at 942 Oak St.