Success Story of the Month: Annie Heaps

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In February of 2012, I ran my second half marathon. What I believed was a perfect storm of training inside (on a treadmill), not training long enough, and getting sick in the middle of training; I ended up injuring myself during that race. Specifically, around mile 9, I began to experience an intense shooting pain in my right leg, on my IT band. Even though the pain only got worse, as any stubborn and competitive runner would, I continued the race. As a result of that, I could barely walk at the end of the 13.1 miles. I continued to suffer the next few days, before deciding to come to VITA. I had not been able to comfortably run since.

When I moved to Milwaukee in 2012, I decided that once I settled into my new city, I would look for a physical therapist. I was desperate to understand my injury, what had caused it, and also get back into running. I found Vita on my insurance provider website and was happy that it was located in a neighborhood I was familiar with, the Historic Third Ward. Likewise, that neighborhood was very close to both work and home.

From the time I made an appointment to the end of my 3-month therapy there, the staff at Vita made me feel comfortable and important. They spent time understanding my injury, how it came about, and how to prevent it in the future. I first worked with Tommy, who diagnosed my injury and also explained how my hip placement and running form had led to my injury. We also worked a lot on strengthening, which would help prevent injury in the future as well as make my core stronger, which would make me a stronger runner. Once we set a foundation for strength and a base knowledge for going forward, he turned me over to Julie to start a running program.

Julie watched the way I ran and completely changed my running form for the better. We worked on my posture, cadence, and getting me into a better running shoe to suit my new form. In every session, Julie gave me new core and hip strengthening exercises to do both at the gym and at home. She also monitored my running progress by giving me a training program for weekly runs. I would then come in every week, tell her how it was going, we would tweak things if necessary.

Julie was an invaluable trainer, mentor, and running guru for me during my therapy and training. I say “guru” because she understood all aspects of my passion and need to run, including the emotional and physical. She demonstrated such an extensive knowledge of effective exercises that I later learned were completely tailored to my body and my recovery needs. She also was extremely understanding and empathetic to my need to run again.

After my time with Tommy and Julie, I was able to run a successful 5K without stopping and with no pain after a short three months after beginning my treatment at Vita. I am now up to 4 miles only weeks after that 5K, and plan to build-up to running longer races over time. Eventually, I hope to get to where I was when I was injured, which is postured towards a full marathon. Even more important than my new found ability to run again, is the fact that I feel like an immensely stronger and smarter runner than I was before. I understand my body, my strengths, my weaknesses, and the importance of maintaining a good running form more than ever before.

I cannot say enough about the quality of care you will get at Vita. They truly care about your development as an athlete and a person, while helping you sustain what you learn into the future. I would highly recommend Vita to anyone wanting to get in shape or recover from an injury.

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