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Encinitas Physical Therapy

Effective Hands-On Treatment 

Neil Sturman, PT, OCS 

Encinitas Physical Therapy founder Neil Sturman is a 1976 graduate of University of Southern California, a board-certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) and a certified Clear Passage therapist. A San Diego native, he has been the owner and director of Encinitas Physical Therapy since 1984.

After graduating from PT school, Neil’s curiosity about the body led him to study with many renowned physical therapists and osteopathic physcians. Initially, he studied joint assessment and treatment from some of the pioneers in manual physical therapy, including Stanley Paris, Geoffrey Maitland, Robin McKenzie, Ola Grimsby and Mariano Rocabado. He also studied Functional Manual Therapy from Gregg Johnson and rolfing with David Riley. 

He then explored cranial and visceral approaches, studying with osteopaths Paul Kimberly, Loren Rex, John Upledger, Jean-Pierre Barral, Alain Gehin, and Lawrence Jones. He studied Spinal Manipulation with Merlin Kemp, Philip Tehen, and Peter Gibbons. 
He has integrated the best of all of these approaches with his patients over the years. Through his affiliation with Clear Passage, he offers effective treatment to those with infertility, bowel obstructions and adhesions in the body. For more information about Clear Passage, visit

Neil has
taught other therapists soft tissue, cranial and visceral mobilization in post-graduate seminars for more than 25 years, and was a visiting instructor in two Physical Therapy programs.

He believes that each person has a unique pattern of dysfunction in their body that requires a unique, customized treatment to be most effective. Working in a private, therapist-owned practice provides the opportunity to offer this kind of treatment. 

Neil is married, has two children and lives in Leucadia. He and his wife, Michelle, designed this office building in 2001 as a peaceful, healing space, with skylights, vaulted ceilings and private gardens off each treatment room.


Michelle J. Sturman, MPT 

Michelle graduated from the Physical Therapy program at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in 1996. She earned her bachelor's degree in Psychobiology from UC Riverside and completed graduate work in biomechanics at San Diego University. She is a certified Clear Passage Therapist.

She utilizes a variety of manual therapy approaches including Myofascial Release, Visceral Manipulation, Mechanical Link, PNF, Joint Mobilization, Soft Tissue Mobilization and Cranio-Sacral Therapy to enhance her clinical results. Michelle has a keen intuitive sense in working with people, both on a clinical and personal level. She uses her ability to sense patterns of tension in each person's body to zero in on the areas that need treatment. Michelle specializes in treating chronic pain associated with the pelvic floor, spine, and extremities. She uses Mechanical Link and other tissue release techniques to bring balance and normal functioning to the rib cage, the knee, and other sites of dysfunction in the body. Through her affiliation with Clear Passage Therapies, she works with people with bowel obstructions, chronic pelvic and abdominal pain, and women with infertility. For more information about this treatment, visit

Michelle is married, has two children and lives in Leucadia. She and her husband, Neil, designed our office building in 2001 as a peaceful, healing space, with skylights, vaulted ceilings and private gardens off each treatment room.

Darren Mallinson, PT, OCS, CSCS

Darren graduated in 1998 from the Hoogeschool van Amsterdam in the Netherlands, completing a comprehensive manual therapy curriculum. He is a Board Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Darren has had advanced training in Joint Mobilization, Soft Tissue Mobilization, Orthopaedic Rehabilitation, Kinesiotaping, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Functional Mobilization and has completed training in the MAT (muscle activation technique) approach for reeducation of joint dysfunction. He is also a level 3 certified Title Performance Institute Medical practitioner.  He brings his own love and experience with athletics to his practice. He enjoys working with post-surgical and other orthopedic problems as well as individuals with chronic pain. Darren has practiced at Encinitas Physical Therapy since 2003 and is known for his effective manual skills and his creativity in devising the ideal exercise prescription for each individual.  

His sports therapy experience includes: athletic trainer at North Carolina State University, physical therapist for a football (soccer) team in Holland, therapist for the Ajax football team of Amsterdam, and therapist for professional athletes and dancers in New York City. Darren is married and loves soccer, golf, snowboarding, surfing, mountain climbing, and traveling.    


Lila Scarlato, MPT 

Lila graduated from the University of Southern California in 1991 with a Master's degree in Physical Therapy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from UCLA. She has worked extensively in the orthopedic and sports medicine arena and has had the opportunity to work with high level athletes including the San Diego Chargers as part of the Oasis Physical Therapy team.

Lila has advanced training in Soft Tissue Mobilization, Functional Mobilization, Pilates, Integrative Manual Therapy, PNF, Functional Exercise, and post-operative care. She strongly believes in the mind/body connection and emphasizes the holistic approach in her practice. She brings her own experience as a marathon runner and triathlete to her practice, and enjoys working with athletes to attain their goals.

Lila spent several years working in outpatient orthopedics in Los Angeles before moving to San Diego.  She continued to fine tune her skills as a manual therapist at HealthSouth and Mission Hills Physical Therapy, and spent 5 years in private practice. She lives in Solana Beach with her husband and daughter. 



Sheila Gilbert is our Front Office Manager and Receptionist. She schedules appointments, communicates with insurance companies, and coordinates the activities and people in the office.