We have an amazing community of resources for our members! You just met our Nutrition Coach, Sarah and now to introduce our Physical Therapist, Kristen. She provides our members with a number of services including injury assessment, prevention exercises and dry needling treatment. Read along to find out more about Kristen.
Hey FLEX Crew! I am excited to be a part of this awesome fitness community as a current member and physical therapist. I was lucky enough to join FLEX in its infancy when we were a group of 40 members running sprints and flipping tires in the back parking lot of a doctor’s office. I am proud to say that after two children, I am in the best shape of my life thanks to the amazing coaches and members of FIT/Park Meadows CrossFit.
Over the past three years, I have also had the opportunity to share my knowledge and treatment skills as a physical therapist with the members of FIT. I wanted to take this opportunity to share a little bit more about myself and my background, so that I can be a resource to all of our members, both local and in our out-of-state locations.
I found my calling as a physical therapist through the beautiful game of soccer. I received a full althletic scholarship to Wake Forest University and was fortunate enough to play four years for the Demon Deacons, as well as receive a top-notch education. During my senior year of high school, I blew out my knee and underwent a major surgery just months before I began my collegiate career. I was able to rehabilitate my knee through the guidance of a physical therapist, who to this day, I consider my hero.
I received my Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Regis University in 2010. I currently practice at Cactus Sport and Spine, P.C. in Littleton, Colorado. Ironically, I now work for the same physical therapist who put me back together after a devastating injury. I received my certification in Trigger Point Dry Needling in 2012 and am also a credentialed Clinical Instructor, which allows me the opportunity to mentor doctorate students in the clinic.
So what exactly does a physical therapist do, and how can I be of use in a gym? The doctorate-level education was put into place after something called Direct Access was instated in majority of states. This means you can see a physical therapist without a prescription from your physician. We can be a first line of care for the evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries.
- Evalution: looking at a patient’s movements and function, including strength, flexibility, mobility, posture, gait, etc.
- Diagnosis: identifying the injury or dysfunction, or referring the patient to an appropriate physician for imaging
- Prognosis: the expected timeline and degree of recovery
- Treatment: the “plan of care” including, but not limited to, manual therapy (joint mobilization, manipulation, soft tissue mobilization, trigger point dry needling), therapeutic exercise, neuromuscular re-education, modalities
The most common and desired treatment that I provide at FLEX Park Meadows is trigger point dry needling. Dry needling involves inserting a thin-guage needle into the trigger point of a muscle to cause the muscle to twitch or contract, and then relax, thus improving the flexibility of the muscle and decreasing the pain. Trigger points have referral patterns throughout the body, so often times an athlete will feel pain in their hamstring, for example, but the source is a trigger point in the piriformis muscle (deep buttock muscle). Many of the locations of these trigger points are so deep that you cannot release them with massage, but dry needling can access these points through multiple layers of tissue.
Part of the rehabilitation process is also identifying WHY an injury occurred. It’s all well and good that we know your Achilles hurts every time you run or jump on a box. But why does it hurt? Did you know that weak gluteal (butt) muscles could cause Achilles pain? If you don’t fire your glutes to accelerate out the door or make the 24” box height, your calf muscles do all the work. And your calf muscles can’t sustain that workload. You can foam roll and stretch your calf until you are blue in the face, but is flexibility really the problem? A better approach might be to retrain your muscles to work differently, by strengthening something that’s been dormant since you took that office job after college 10 years ago…
I am confident that the expert coaches of FLEX do their best job to appropriately program workouts, teach technique, and modify exercises for appropriate members. But the reality of any fitness endeavor is that you might get hurt. You don’t have to fall down to the ground in agony to be considered injured. An injury is anything that prevents you from participating and performing at your highest ability. Instead of typing your symptoms into Google and diagnosing yourself with a rare genetic defect that can only be treated at the Mayo Clinic (been there, done that), ask an expert first. Whether it’s myself, one of our coaches who can direct you to the appropriate provider, or your doctor, don’t let injuries linger. Get them addressed. Because a once acute, treatable injury, can turn into something chronic that ultimately leads to other dysfunctions throughout the body.
Please feel free to email me any time with questions, or to schedule an appointment at the gym. I am happy to be a resource to any of our members throughout the country. Thank you for reading, and good luck reaching your goals!
Kristen K. Valentin, PT, DPT