Fundamentals of Intervention #4:

Integrating Movement Through the Integrated to Isolated Spectrum

If this is your first time tuning into the “Fundamentals of Intervention: An Approach For Treatment” series, catch up on my previous blogs on treating pain, integrating higher level sensory systems into treatment, and improving mobility, motor control and stability (prior to understanding how to integrate movement through the integrated to isolated spectrum. The flow of information will make more sense when approached hierarchically, I promise!

As a young clinician, there was a consistent disconnect regarding my perception of how muscles worked and the exercises often prescribed to ‘strengthen’ the region. Simply put, it didn’t add up; and so over time I created an outline that has helped me to organize and have better objectivity to regressive and progressive movements. This has turned into what I call an “Integrated to Isolated Spectrum”. It was designed recognizing that pure isolation and pure integration aren’t always enough to make desired changes and progressive to regressive strategies were important to keep movement novel, intense and at a threshold. The Integrated to Isolated Spectrum includes two middle steps that provide regressive and progressive movement strategies. These middle steps ensure that it’s possible traverse from one end of the spectrum to the other in measurable, thoughtful and obtainable ways. Isolation and integration are fairly obvious, however it’s the steps in between that best allow the individual threshold to be worked at.

The Integrated to Isolated Spectrum

This spectrum is divided into 4 parts. They are:

  1. Isolated-Isolation

Defined as one muscle and joint, working in one dimension, with or without an isometric hold of the rest of the body. This can best be thought of as most often what tradition teaches as ‘muscle action’ in isolation.

  1. Isolated-Integration

Defined as one or more muscles and joints working together in one plane of motion while the other two planes stabilize and perform a concentric/shortening action first. I think of isolated integration as what tradition teaches as an isolated muscle action while moving or standing.

  1. Integrated-Isolation

Defined as muscles and joints surrounding a region to be positioned in 3D isometrics holds, with a drive from above or below.  

  1. Integrated-Integration

Defined as all tissue and joints of the transformational zone working together in 3D to control a specific motion.  

Knowing this information, how can the integrated to isolated spectrum be applied clinically to improve joint relationship? Watch my new 2 hour course where I’ll share real-life exercise examples as it pertains to the Integrated to Isolated Spectrum and discuss my other four fundamentals of intervention.



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Adam Wolf, PT

Author Adam Wolf, PT

Adam’s professional credentials include Licensure in Physical Therapy (IL) and Massage Therapy (IL) and Fellow of Applied Functional Science (Gray Institute)(’09). Some of his certifications include Enhance Running Technician, Functional Range Conditioning (FRC), Dry Needling Certified, Neurokinetic Therapy level 3(NKT), Functional-Neuro-Orthopedic Rehab (FNOR) provider, and he has his certificate of competency in vestibular rehabilitation. As a Physical Therapist of over 15 years in Chicago, he is the owner of REAL Physical Therapy and founder of The Movement Guild. He is the author of two books, including the most recently published Foundations of Movement: A Brain Based Musculoskeletal Approach. Adam is a Master Instructor on the Rocktape Education Team for the past seven years, and also teaches his own material.

More posts by Adam Wolf, PT