Katy: The Physical Therapist We All Need



“I have been working with child athletes for more than fifteen years now. I am from the north suburbs of Chicago.  When I was seven I started gymnastics because I wanted to go the Olympics. At age eight I was doing gymnastics 30 hours a week. When I was 16 I tore my ACL. That was an injury that ended a gymnastics career, but I managed to recover from it.  When I was going through that process I decided I wanted to be a physical therapist and work with gymnasts. I went to college for gymnastics where I studied biology and chemistry. Additionally I did work in a bio-mechanics lab throughout my collegiate career. I never waivered with what I wanted to do and I was fortunate to be accepted to my first choice for physical therapy school – Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

I have now been a PT since 2002. I worked with a lot of gymnasts at the beginning of my career and then I expand to other kid athletes like runners, figure skaters, basketball, football, and hockey. I started specializing with female athletes just by referral, which resulted in a lot of soccer and volleyball players. I realized working with gymnasts was very narrow. I couldn’t only work with gymnasts; that’s not really how it works.” I also work with a lot of adult athletes from recreational to professional.


“Working out is not a one size fits all answer for one person or for one’s whole life. There are many factors that can make a workout appropriate or destructive for one person. Do you sit all day? Do you move all day? I move all day at a physical therapist, so I like to do yoga which is restorative. I usually recommend people try to do the opposite of what their daily routine is to create balance. Having said that, your body goes through seasons physically and hormonally. Sometimes you should do a high intensity run and sometimes you should do more of a fluid workout. I think the key is to listen to your body and what its asking for.  I am not saying I don’t support having goals and pushing through a hard workouts or athletics. Quite the contrary. I give the same advice to my professional or high level athletes because when we don’t listen to what our body is asking for, thats when injuries occur. The best thing you can do is to not be married forever to a set workout our mind decided. Allow your body to guide you and you will preserve wellness at a much higher level. Balancing the messages from your mind and body is key to a healthy workout schedule.”


“I love running and biking across the lakefront. It is flat and uninterrupted by stop lights and stop signs. It allows you to totally think about nothing else and just be in the moment. I don’t think you can truly workout if you can’t workout along the lakefront. I enjoy 105F Yoga, Yoga View, and Om on the Range for yoga classes. I fluctuate what I do. When I was doing a lot of triathlon, I wasn’t doing a lot of yoga. I change it up.  My newest obsession is ELDOA.”


“I would have answered that differently in different stages of my life. In my 20s I would have said it was having precise goals, perseverance, and working though that incessantly. Absolutely NEVER giving up and a willingness to sacrifice anything with eyes always on the ‘prize’.   I would have thought that was my greatest strength and where my power lied. On paper I have a lot of achievements that derive from that belief system. However, there are things that arguably alluded me from holding so tightly to that belief. Now in my 30s, I try to balance going with the flow and accepting that not everything is going to look the way I think it is ‘supposed’ to look. I try practicing  having high involvement towards achieving goals, but low attachment to the precise outcomes. For me being open to better outcomes that I could have imagined that might better serve me is powerful. At least that is something I am working towards.

I think the most empowering thing about what I do as a physical therapist is that it is not me fixing people; it is me showing them how to fix themselves. Your body knows how to heal. Sometimes it needs help along the way to get in the right direction. I think teaching people how to know their body and the personal power they have to heal and maintain health is one of the most empowering things about what I do.”


“I have a ritual of what I say to myself when I put my hands on people. I say “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours.” I do this because of the energetic transfer. When I work on people, I work deeply and I want to protect them from me and vice versa. Our bodies are intrinsically linked. We can’t separate a physical ailment from an emotional component.  For example, for every thought you think there is a chemical equivalent (hormone etc) that gets absorbed into your cells. If someone is stressed, cortisol is released and that gets absorbed into their muscles, fascia etc. This can lead to a physical pathology even though the initial root may have started in the brain. While sometimes my treatment can be physically painful, this can explain why people have ‘unexplained emotions’ when working in certain areas.

I also try to tell myself ‘fresh eyes’ with each patient.  It’s easy to get in ruts especially with long term patients and only see what I think how their body normally presents. Saying this in my head helps  remind myself to be truly present and analyze the person in front of me and not the diagnosis pattern I believe them to have. Its my intent that by doing this I can be a more effective practitioner each time for each patient.”


1)    I love my watch, The Polar. It’s a triathlon watch.

2)    Saj Balls.  They are the best for releasing the bottom of your feet

3)    Thieves oil is an essential oil and natural antimicrobial. Since I am so hands on with patients and very involved in their space, it helps to protect me from them and them from me. I put it on every day.



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