Get to know Dr. Aaron Barnard DPT

What are you known for professionally? 

I am known most for incorporating corrective physical therapy with good old-fashioned strength and conditioning. If I had to break rehabilitation into two categories, it would be 1) establish balance. And 2) improve resiliency. To improve balance, I rely heavily on techniques and treatment algorithms from the Postural Restoration Institute. Improving positioning of the pelvis, rib cage and neck helps to reduce strain on tissues and joints and shifts the body into a state of recovery. This helps restore ideal walking and breathing patterns. Which is essential to pretty much everything else in life. Once alignment has been improved it’s time to train and improve resilience! This is the fun part and looks a lot like working out. The goal is to find what is stopping you from doing what you love and filling in the gaps with strength and resiliency.  

What makes your practice unique? 

My style of rehabilitation is pretty eclectic. I have adopted a variety of techniques, from breath work to Osteopathic cranial mobilizations. But by far the most influential thing has been studying from the Postural Restoration Institute. This is something unique to the area as only a handful of individuals in Oregon are familiar with the approach. For the last several years I have been studying from the Institute and have even been awarded a full scholarship to test for Postural Restoration Certification this December.

Describe your professional journey to this point:

I have been training for some kind of athletic event for most of my life. I’m not good at sitting still. But it wasn’t until I was living in Salvador Brazil that I first considered making a career out of movement. At the time I was a missionary, living with a former MMA fighter and personal trainer. He was very short, very strong and very charismatic. I was tall, introverted and a distance runner. We were complete opposites. But he showed me that I had more control over my life than I thought. With hard work and consistency, I could change just about anything in my life. If I wanted to be strong, I could do it. And If I wanted to be charismatic, then I could do that too. 

I don’t know if I ever became charismatic, but I sure fell in love with working out. I thought that if I could understand the human body well enough then I could change my body for the better. I got certified as a personal trainer and even became general manager of the now defunct International Fitness. But to better understand the body, I decided I needed to go back to school. So, I enrolled in a Physical Therapy program in Knoxville Tennessee. 

In my quest to understand the human body I searched high and low for the best resources. Which ultimately lead me to the Postural Restoration Institute, which I believe has the most accurate understanding of human movement. I even turned down a clinic manager job to work for Well Balanced, because 1) It was a place I could practice Postural Restoration. But 2) It was an opportunity to learn more about how the body works from the perspective of Dr. Courtney Connell and Kileen Swenson. Working at Well Balanced has put me in contact with an extraordinary group of dedicated, and like-minded practitioners like Dr. Mariel Hammond. And has helped me to achieve my goal of understanding the human body better.  

Top three things you want your patients to know: 

Three things I would like my patient to know are summed up in my 30% rule. “Do you want to feel 30% better tomorrow”? Then you had better add 3 items to your ‘to do’ list today. Step one: Hydrate. Step two: move. Step three: sleep. If you get these three things right you’re going to feel 30% better than if you hadn’t. You may be wondering “how do I sleep better, hydrate quickly and move optimally?” Great question! Schedule an appointment with me and we can break down the 30% rule, and a whole lot more!

What inspires you most in your profession?

I’m inspired most by high achievers and problem solvers. Those who come up with elegant and simple solutions to complex problems. In the rehabilitation world this looks like quickly determining the most limiting aspect of a patient’s movement and addressing it effectively. Ron Hruska, the founder of the Postural Restoration Institute, is a prime example of a problem solver, and a clinical visionary. Another great influence has been one of my local mentors Dr. Tyler Tanaka, who has taught me much of what I know about establishing body balance. And Dr. Mariel Hammond, who has taught me much about what I think about resilience. 

Written by Dr. Aaron Barnard DPT & Questions inspired by Kileen Swenson Lac MAOM