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Pilates COREterly

Spring 2012

Rehab Corner

The CoreAlign In Action

Success Story: Alpine Physical Therapy, Missoula, MT

Since its introduction nearly three years ago, the CoreAlign has been making a serious splash in the rehabilitation field. Nowhere is that more evident than at Alpine Physical Therapy in Missoula, MT.

Samantha Schmidt, PT, a long-time Pilates-based rehab practitioner at Alpine PT, first tried the CoreAlign at Balanced Body’s Pilates on Tour Rehab Summit in April 2009. “As soon as I got on it I immediately felt in my own body the potential this could have on my patient’s body. I knew it could be a great tool to teach proper movement to those stuck in compensatory, dysfunctional patterns.”

As soon as she got back to Missoula she met with Brent Dodge, the owner of Alpine. They immediately began making plans for Sam to start working toward Master Instructor certification. After that was accomplished they then turned their sights on the rest of the Alpine PT staff. Dodge also began his CoreAlign training. “We both knew this was going to change the landscape of our business,” said Dodge. “It’s such a phenomenally effective tool for functional movement, gait training, strength training and balance.”

Fast returns
The program was immediately popular and grew exponentially. Alpine originally bought four CoreAligns when they first came off the production line in 2009. Now they have six in their clinic. And working closely with their sister Pilates studio - CoreStudio - they have another six units for post-rehab sessions along with the huge number of clients who wanted to continue in fitness/group classes. In addition, they have 10 PTs and five fitness instructors now certified to teach CoreAlign classes.

The return on equipment and education was also rapid. According to Dodge and Schmidt, the initial outlay for certification and equipment in the clinic was paid off within the first year of the CoreAlign program, and has been a steady revenue generator ever since. The studio is on track to break even by the end of 2012.

“We took advantage of this new method and offered open houses to our referral sources, contacted the local media to be spotlighted, and created a niche for our clinic in a competitive market,” said Schmidt. “And our clients absolutely love it. I can’t tell you how many times we hear ‘“this thing is changing my life!’”

So the question becomes why. Why is it so effective and why are clients flocking to Alpine PT to get on this thing?

Great for gait
Schmidt says the CoreAlign is an incredible tool for gait training. “With the unique design and use of individual carts and the upright standing position on the CoreAlign, there is an optimal force on the entire body to facilitate and train gait with the proper oppositional muscle groups. One can change the resistance of these carts, add upper extremity movements, or even trunk motion,” she says.

“We walk upright,” adds Dodge. “The CoreAlign is designed with that in mind. Even the basic moves on the CoreAlign mimic walking in a dynamic environment. Placing a patient on the CoreAlign who is having difficulty with walking is fascinating.

During instruction, I’m able to break the move into concise sequences, enabling a logical progression toward normalized gait.”

(continued above)

But that’s the just the start...
For Schmidt the CoreAlign also lets her analyze her patients in a functional position, while allowing them to feel the compensations she is observing: “It doesn’t tolerate cheating, so when a patient isn’t strong enough or not using the proper muscles they are unable to complete the movement on the machine in an effortless manner. It also offers a unique postural challenge in standing that encourages the deep inner core muscles that many, if not most, patients have difficulty turning on correctly.”

Dodge loves that the CoreAlign provides a continuum from rehab to fitness: “Most people who begin using it as part of their rehab find they enjoy the exercise progressions. As a result, many want to continue after rehab and find that it’s a great way to exercise for a lifetime.”

CoreAlign success story
Schmidt worked with an Olympic runner who fell on the ice in January of 2012 and landed on her ischial tuberosity (sit bone) where the hamstring attaches. This resulted in a severe tear of her proximal hamstring attachment and started causing major hamstring issues which, for an 800 meter professional runner, is a major setback.

She decreased her mileage in running by 15 miles and increased her CoreAlign training to 4x/week while Alpine attempted to both facilitate healing of the hamstring and keep her training up for the outdoor racing season.

The runner not only maintained her times but went on to establish some of the best times of her career - despite a seriously compromised hamstring and much younger competition. Schmidt states that the CoreAlign allowed her to optimize her movement pattern to reduce compensation, improve efficiency, and provide for the most energy possible to complete her 800m race.

In addition, the runner was also experiencing knee pain and low back pain due to the initial hamstring injury. According to Schmidt, the CoreAlign actually trained her out of these patterns and allowed her to compete the full season.

Any words for a PT who’s never tried the CoreAlign?
Schmidt: “Get on it, feel it, spend an hour with this method and you will feel it for days!! Your patients will feel the difference and realize they can move with efficiency, feel younger and taller, and see improvements with their activities of daily living whether that is sport or work.”

Dodge: “No other exercise method catalyzes foundational movement with full-body function and core stability training to the magnitude afforded by the CoreAlign. When your intellect and your pocketbook collide, step on. You’ll instantly feel what I mean.”

Learn more about the CoreAlign and see more profiles at

Learn more about Alpine’s CoreAlign program at