South Boulder Phycial Therapist Experienced Gentle Shoulder Neck Pain


Rachel Katz is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 35 years experience treating patients with chronic pain and complex pain situations.  She has over 1500 hours of post-graduate study in a variety of treatment methods, including a 3-year program certifying her as a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner ®.  Rachel is 1 of a handful of Physical Therapists in the United States to have graduated from this program. This educational framework provides her clients with a unique opportunity to benefit from mind and body therapies. Entrenched muscle spasm and pain are often responsive to treatment within the broader context of stress-associated conditions. She is acknowledged by renowned trauma educator and author, Robert Scaer, M.D. in his book, The Trauma Spectrum.

Not all chronic pain has roots in trauma. The interesting thing is that some of the methods that help with traumatic stress influences also help considerably in more common chronic pain patterns.

What Limits Healing?

In 1996 I faced significant pain challenges from a car accident, PTSD, and joint pain. In the process of managing and overcoming these major life and health conditions, I gained new insights and answers to the question, “What limits healing?”

In 2008 I sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a car accident. Some of the fall-out from that was hypersensitivity to light and noise. Retention of  sequences of information  shortened to 2-3 things in a series.

My kids would complain about my telling people I’d had a brain injury when I’d ask for a conversation to slow down to smaller chunks. It embarrassed them but it enabled me to adapt and retrain my brain’s ability to listen and understand.

That gave me a new awareness of some of the issues that are unique to brain injury. My ability to do math in my head could be worked around with a calculator but listening to 2 people talk at the same time was like trying to understand Swahili.  Again I had to figure out how to regain lost and altered abilities. I had new personal experiences to guide my client’s recoveries from TBIs.

Ah, the life lessons about healing continued. In 2013 I dodged a disease that had haunted me for decades. After my 5th breast cancer scare I made the hard choice to dodge what seemed like an inevitable bullet. I had 2 and a half years of steady pain to make it through until my nerves regrew.

In this healing journey I’ve come to regard part of pain problems as the way the brain reacts to what is going on in the body. Movement and the ability to feel and control subtle aspects of posture can be key. Most of the underpinnings of movement are unconscious and arise from patterns in a person’s posture system.

Many pain problems are perpetuated by missing movements that the brain has forgotten how to utilize. It is not a matter of just doing an exercise but regaining access to movement control, and a reset in ordinary, everyday motions.


Rachel Katz graduated from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy in 1982.  Her traditional training included intensive study of anatomy, nerves, normal movement and faulty movement patterning, and joint dynamics.  Training also included normal reflex and balance development and brain development and the problems that arise with illness, disease, and injury. She was trained in massage and corrective exercise, joint protection, movement efficiency and rehabilitation in problems that resolve as well as progress as part of the broad and extensive education process of becoming a Physical Therapist.

Before Rachel became a Physical Therapist she was a certified swim instructor in Michigan and a professional ski instructor in Aspen, CO.  Movement analysis is part of teaching sports and it’s also a big part of figuring out how a person moves in ordinary and sports motions.

Rachel has worked with all ages and in diverse settings such as outpatient clinics, sports medicine, geriatrics, nursing home, and hospital settings.  She has owned her private clinic in Boulder since 1990.

Throughout the years has pursued finding answers to why some people don’t heal well from injuries, accidents, car crashes, and from pain brought on by biomechanical, posture, illness and disease issues.

Rachel has studied manual therapy methods from international experts from Canada, Australia, Norway, the US, and France. This has included Cranial-Sacral, Visceral Manipulation, Muscle Energy, Strain-Counter strain, Osteopathic joint mobilization, Medical Exercise Training, and Neural Tension Release, and Energy healing.

Traumatic Stress Study

Beginning in 1997, Rachel began the study of traumatic stress impacts on the mind, the emotions, and the body. She spent 3 years training to become a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner ® under the program developed by Peter Levine, PhD. This intensive training bridged the gap between the body and the mind in traumatic stress, and PTSD.  The study of trauma and it’s manifestations in illness, pain, and sensory processing has been of significant help in solving a higher percentage of complex situations.

Integration of trauma theory and Somatic Experiencing principles into a Physical Therapy practice led to other unique ways of working with chronic pain.  These methods were developed into an organized approach by Rachel Katz.  Originally titled; Sensory-Motor Manual Therapy; this work was first taught at The Boulder College of Massage Therapy in June of 2009 as a state approved course.

Rachel guest lectured for the Medical Massage classes at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy on numerous occasions.

Community Outreach

Rachel has reached out to the community to bring hope and help to a range of people.  In 2005-2006 she developed and implemented a trauma resolution program within the Boulder County Jail’s Drug and Alcohol Recovery Program. The program focused on strategies for addressing the impacts of abusive families of origin, violence, humiliation, sexual abuse, and other traumatic events.  The group of about 30 inmates learned new ways to regulate their stress levels, connect to their families, and improve their relationships with their children.  It is Rachel’s deep desire to decrease the cycle of drug abuse and violence in our community. Years after 2006, the program continues within the Phoenix recovery program.


Rachel has had a lifelong love of horses.  Rachel’s study of trauma coincided with beginning to study Natural Horsemanship as taught by Pat and Linda Parelli.  The study of both arose out of the tragic death of Rachel’s 10 year old nephew in a horseback riding accident.  Rachel considers her horses as partners and teachers on many levels. Work with safety, energy, boundaries, sensitivity to the environment, and the relationship are all part of what is shared.