Welcome to the #LifeCantWait Blog, SPEAR Physical Therapy’s official stream for fitness tips, exercise advice, and healthy lifestyle inspiration. Our articles and features are written by our physical therapists and staff members with your progress in mind. Designed to educate and motivate, SPEAR’s #LifeCantWait Blog exists to share your stories and help you get back to life! Disclaimer
Six years ago, during a game, Kristen Markoe was dodging a trap at half court when she heard a sharp pop and felt her knee give out. Her left ACL had torn. She was out for the season and would require reconstructive surgery. But her experience of being sidelined and undergoing extensive physical therapy would go on to inspire her to become a physical therapist and coach who is dedicated to helping other athletes not only recover physically and mentally, but also focus on injury prevention.
As part of the Hunter College Women’s Basketball team, Kristen was a star player and team captain who broke numerous records, becoming the first player at Hunter ever to record over 1,000 rebounds and earning the second all-time career points in women’s basketball. She was named CUNYAC Rookie of the Year and then Player of the Year three times. Now an Assistant Coach, Kristen remains heavily involved in developing the team’s conditioning program, emphasizing proper warm-up body mechanics and strength/agility/stamina workouts to improve performance. Have a seemingly inexplicable pain? Coach Kristen’s the first point of reference. Don’t have access to the department’s PT/conditioning staff during off-season? Coach Kristen’s door is always open.
This October, she hosted her third injury prevention screening for Hunter’s basketball teams, focusing on familiar foe and the number one culprit for sidelines: ACL injuries. Rallying over 15 SPEAR Therapist and Tech volunteers, Kristen designed eight stations for over 20 participating players to provide assessments that were unique both to each player and their athletic goals. Players were able to get direct feedback on their leg stability/ROM, landing control, push-off and landing, running/cutting mechanics, and more. Throughout the event Coach Kristen poked, prodded, demonstrated, and encouraged before sending each student home with an individualized exercise program to help them work on any weaknesses and avoid potential injuries.
Having organized the event a couple times now, Kristen says she’s gotten to learn and improve a lot. When first bringing up the idea to her SPEAR director, Joe Costello, last year, it was just an idea, something she’d tried as a PT student. But by the end of her meeting, “Joe was giving me deadlines to make things happen.” There were people to coordinate with, spaces to reserve, clinical exercises to design, materials to gather. Before she knew it, Kristen’s passion for bringing physical therapy to student athletes before they’re injured, and the experiences that allowed her to empathize with her team, turned her into a SPEAR leader.
In addition to providing SPEAR the opportunity to connect with more patient athletes, Kristen says these injury prevention screenings also “allow [therapists] to hone skills in movement assessment at high levels of athleticism.” Not only do these outreach efforts provide us with opportunities to connect with our communities, but they also help us develop as healthcare providers.
When asked about her next goals, Kristen says, “I am definitely looking to hold a screening for other teams at Hunter College—the women’s volleyball team, men and women’s fencing team, and men’s soccer team coaches have reached out with interest. Within SPEAR I am interested in becoming Assistant Clinical Director.” On November 6th, it was announced that Kristen Markoe would be promoted to Assistant Clinical Director of our W 57th clinic.
Thank you to all the Hunter College basketball students who joined us at Kristen’s ACL injury prevention screening–stay safe!
Watch Manek and Damien’s Full Inspirational Story Below:
Manek Mathur and Damien Mudge are professional squash players, top champions, and the ultimate tag team pair! Considered two of the nation’s top squash players, Damien and Manek are no strangers to pushing their bodies to the limit. The dynamic duo has been receiving physical therapy treatment from our very own Dave Endres, PT, MS—with his expert guidance, these partners have been able to get back to life (and back out on the court) quickly and safely.
Watch as Damien and Manek tell their story!
Full Transcript Below:
Manek Mathur: My name is Manek Mathur. I’m 31 years of age, and I’m a professional squash player.
Damien Mudge: I’m Damian Mudge. I’m 42 and a professional squash player. So Dave Endres, he was actually an assistant squash player at the racket tennis club where Manek works.
Manek Mathur: Dave and SPEAR, the reputation speaks for itself. I think everybody that he’s treated so far speaks very highly of him and always has significant results; and squash communities, are very small and very close knit. And when someone makes such an impact in someone’s life and in someone’s performance, everybody knows about it pretty quick. Dave is one of those guys that has a massive influence on all of us and puts us back on the court a lot quicker.
Damien Mudge: Yeah, I think, as Manek said, Dave’s so proficient and understands the bodies so well that the results that you get are much faster than I think you would normally do.
Manek Mathur: Since he is a squash player, he understands the intensity that the sport requires. He understands how these issues come about, and how to fix them, and how to work with us through them. I think this speaks highly of Dave. I think he such an approachable, friendly individual that when you come and see him for treatment, it starts off as a professional client kind of relationship. But he does such a great job about loosening you as a client to make you feel more comfortable. And like Damien, I think it started off as a very professional relationship with him, and now I can say he’s a very good friend and I just appreciate his input and his advice in my life. Whether I’m in the clinic or not, he’s always guiding me towards certain things that I’m doing with my body and what I can be doing better to enhance my performance.
Damien Mudge: There’s obviously a lot of PT places around, a lot of different clinics around, but the environment which has been created here—it’s obviously a very professional environment, but it’s also a very friendly, very open and very good-feeling environment. Plus they obviously know their work as well.
Manek Mathur: I think coming into a physical therapy clinic, a lot of people are hesitant, a lot of people are nervous. But I think when you look around in here, when you’re getting treatment or even now, everybody’s got a little bit of a smile on their face. And I think that starts from the top and starts from the PTs here. I think everybody has a great energy about themselves and what they do and they clearly have a passion for what they do. That transfers down all the way to the clients, it’s impressive.
Damien Mudge: It’s a pretty impressive thing to be starting a business and having a business going on for two decades and it continually growing as it is. It just sort of shows what kind of business they run here and just the evolution that they’re having with it. I think it’s absolutely fantastic.
Manek Mathur: It speaks very high volumes of the quality of service that is given here at SPEAR. It would be hard to survive for 20 years and constantly keep opening clinics if the practice wasn’t was as good as it is.
Damien Mudge: I think it’s kind of cool to see the evolution of SPEAR, but in particular, the evolution of people involved with squash through SPEAR. Definitely the past five years has probably been an influx of maybe five times the amount of squash people or university club members, or our team members which have come in here, which is pretty cool to see. Most times when we walk in the door we either see each other and other pros, or we see other members of the R&T or the union club. And that’s really quite cool, right? That’s all word-of-mouth stuff and it just makes it just that much more friendly, with familiar faces going on.
Manek Mathur: Yeah, I think the presence that SPEAR and Dave has in the squash community is second-to-none. Right from the pro level to our members. And then recently, SPEAR was the sponsor of the Tournament of Champions, which is pretty incredible to see Dave working with the best current players on the tour right now. And, and even these guys who travel the world and are exposed to the best PTs across the globe, speak so highly of this practice. And all the PTs that have been here, they’re constantly exposed to new technologies to work on certain things. Each one of them was very impressed by SPEAR—I think that’s commendable.
Alec Thomson is a seasoned and active New Yorker, often competing in various athletic competitions around the nation. Alec was training for his first Ironman Triathlon competition when he unexpectedly experienced a cycling accident, going head over handlebars in Central Park. Worried about how this would affect his ability to compete in the upcoming race, Alec was looking to jump right into physical therapy.
Alec began his search for a physical therapist. His first interaction with SPEAR ultimately influenced his decision to begin treatment with us. The care coordinator who took care of him asked a series of specific questions around his condition and goals. Alec was initially confused when offered an appointment at a SPEAR clinic further away from his home; when he expressed concern, the care coordinator indicated she felt this particular therapist was better-suited for handling Alec’s particular condition. “The fact that the scheduler understood what I was doing, understood what I wanted to do, and wanted me to get the most appropriate attention, brought me to SPEAR,” Alec says.
Alec worked with two therapists, mostly with Jimmy Olayos. Alec found that at SPEAR, he did not have just a therapist: he had what he fondly calls, “a family relationship—it was just a click.” Alec looked forward to his sessions: “the hustle of the day kind of fades away as I walk in. Somebody’s [always] smiling, there’s laughter and there’s camaraderie.”
Throughout his treatment, Alec prioritized getting his body to function properly, learning what he needed to return to his previous level of physical activity. Alec needed to focus on the basics before he could go full throttle: “those days leading up to the race, I was not running, I was not swimming, I was not biking; all I was doing was rehabbing my body,” he shares.
After many weeks of intensive physical therapy, Alec was able to compete in the Ironman competition—not only finishing, but doing pretty well! Alec is now able to live his full life and continue the sports he loves so much. “I still run, I still exercise, I still surf,” he proclaims. “SPEAR exceeded anything I could have ever thought of.”
Regarding our celebration of 20 years in service, Alec had this to say: “I want [SPEAR] to keep doing what you’re doing, and be all over the U.S. so I have access to what you do. Congratulations, 20 years is a big deal!”
We think so, too, Alec! Thank you for sharing your story with us!
“This month, we are featuring a very special recovery story about our patient, Gina!
Gina has been a yoga instructor for the last 30 years. Working in the fitness field, naturally she understands the anatomy of the body quite well. She couldn’t however, figure out why she was having such extreme pain in her jaw.
“I had complete immobility in my jaw,” Gina shares. “I could hear cracking. I could barely open my mouth, and couldn’t eat properly, either.” Gina visited her dentist in pain. That’s when she found she was dealing with Tempero-Mandibular Dysfunction (TMD); this is when you experience pain in the joint that connects your jaw to your skull (also known as your Tempero-Mandibular Joint, or TMJ).
Gina immediately sought physical therapy treatment in hopes of becoming pain-free once again, prioritizing finding someone who specifically specialized in her condition. That’s when she met her therapist, Shaun Whited, and began treatment at our E 56th Street location. Gina admits, her first session seemed bizarre: “Suddenly I had a stranger with his fingers in my mouth, and manipulating my neck!” Her hesitation quickly dissipated—she noticed she felt notably better after just the first visit. “Shaun was warm, funny and knowledgeable,” Gina recalls. She knew she was in good hands and had full trust in his ability to get her back to life.
The rest of the SPEAR team on the floor proved to be incredibly helpful as well. “Everyone from the front desk staff to the floor team were supportive, enthusiastic, and on top of everything. They were willing to answer any questions I had and were always pleasant—they even recognized me after just the first few visits.”
By the end of her treatment duration, Gina was 100% back to her normal self, making a full recovery. Gina is now fortunately cured of her TMJ issue. “If I had another episode,” she notes, “I would look forward to coming back. If you’re considering coming to SPEAR, you can’t go wrong.”
Dr. Etan Sugarman is an Orthopedic surgeon specializing in the treatment of athletes of all abilities, from high school to professional players to weekend warriors. He has a history at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic treating a vast range of professional athletes of Los Angeles(Rams, Dodgers, Angels). An avid surfer, violinist and athlete, his priority is for all patients to understand, feel comfortable and work with them to get back to life. He thrives under his position as opportunity to make somebody else’s life better.