HALF IRONMAN AND MARATHON ATHLETe
Three Years And Counting With Chris Johnson!
I met Chris in 2011 through the TriLatino multisport club. I’ve been participating in endurance events since 2005 and have been fortunate enough to train with some incredible coaches in and around New York City.
Halfway through my first Half Ironman season I developed a deep pain in my knee when I ran more than 6 or 7 miles. I went the sports doc route, received a cortisone shot, took Advil, etc., but the pain persisted. I scheduled an appointment with Chris and a few weeks later after several PT sessions and some very focused work at home, the pain subsided. Chris’ approach to physical therapy is different. He makes no assumptions, right down to your footwear choice (he’s obsessed with sneakers!) and how you stand when you’re waiting for the subway. He cares deeply for his clients and uses his impressive knowledge base, his own experience as an elite triathlete and his many years as a leader in the PT field to strengthen, heal, and educate his clients. Chris is fiercely dedicated to his work and to keeping his athletes out there doing what they love.
In July of 2013, with strong knees, I asked Chris if he would train me for the New York City Marathon. What followed were 16 weeks of focused, calculated, and careful training. My body became stronger in all the right places, my form clicked, my head was in the right place and I felt ready. I trusted Chris and I trusted his plan. Needless to say, I had an extraordinary marathon experience, and I’m not just talking about the race.
Chris is a talented physical therapist, an impressive athlete and a tremendous coach. He is a man of significant character and a true professional.
The day after the marathon I sent Chris an email to share my thoughts. Here are some excerpts from my “best moments” section:
Getting to the 59th Street Bridge (which everyone warned me was the hardest part of the race) and absolutely flying through those miles when lots of folks around me started walking. I felt perfectly trained at that moment. I didn't need to think about it...my body just instinctively reacted. Awesome! Also loved the quiet and lack of spectators. Realizing that when I felt my legs getting tired, all I had to do was dial in my form and force some pep back into my stride. Entering the park and thinking, "this is it! Chris said it won't be comfortable so go get it!" I pushed and pushed...exited the park onto Central Park South and felt the emotion start welling up inside. I ran as fast as my tired legs and joyful heart would take me. So many people were slowing down which somehow fueled me even more. I turned the corner into the park and pushed as hard as I could right through the finish. For me, the entire race is worth what happens in that last mile. It's extraordinary and I feel like I own it forever. You can't buy it, you can't teach it...you can't even really explain it. I guess it's what happens when you're stripped of all except who you really are, and you realize you're happy with that. Happy with yourself in your most raw state of being. Thank you for getting me there.
~Lesile Barrett | New York City, NY
Certified Rolfer and Runner
As a massage therapist, I see many clients who are in chronic pain. I ask all of them if they have seen a physical therapist to get some help. A significant percentage tell me they have not, and when I ask why, they often relate a previous experience in physical therapy that was dissatisfying.
I usually tell them that in physical therapy, like anything else, there is a pretty wide diversity of skills and abilities in understanding relevant research and applying it practically.
Chris Johnson is one of the knowledgeable physical therapists I know. As someone who has studied movement and pain for more than 15 years, and even wrote a book about it, I always learn something new when I talk with Chris.
Recently I was able to get first-hand experience of his practical skills when he helped me assess and correct some issues I was having with my running gait.
Chris's examination was extremely thorough and soon focused in on the source of the problem, which was my left foot. The exercises he prescribed were unique, effective, and most importantly, well integrated into the functional activities I wanted to improve, in this case running. As an athlete, Chris knows how to build a bridge between simple rehab exercises and rigorous athletic training.
Which brings up another point. Chris walks the walk. Not only is he an outstanding athlete, but he was able to perform each of the rehab exercises he demonstrated with a level of skill that made it clear he had practiced them himself for many hours.
All of this strongly confirmed my belief that Chris is the go to guy in Seattle for pain related to movement, especially sporting movements like running cycling and swimming.
-Todd Hargrove, Certified Rolfer and founder of Better Movement | Seattle, WA
5 X time Champion UltraMAN
I have been an endurance athlete for over a decade as well as a competitive lacrosse player for most of my life. In that time, I have dealt with too many trainers and even more chiropractors.
I can honestly say that I will never go to another now that I have worked with Chris Johnson. Chris will be the only physical therapist and trainer that I will ever trust my recovery to for any injury for so long as he is willing to put up with me.
My injuries throughout the years have stacked up but, most recently, I went through a pair of surgical procedures for my lower back. The first was a discectomy and the second was a fusion of the same area about 6 months later. After the first surgery, I went against the doctor’s recommendation and saw a therapist, who was closer to my office. I left that session in much more pain than when I arrived and vowed never to return. The problem there was that they were not taking the time to understand the limits of my body, but treated me from a textbook that stated my flexibility should be “x” and the proper stretching technique was “y”.
When I went to see Chris, it was simply different; we spent a lot of time discussing my history, pain triggers, and the goals that I had for my future athletic endeavors. Chris took the time to understand my body, its inherent limits, and the things that I would be asking of it in years to come. He then gauged and created a specific regiment to cater to that recovery with all factors feeding into the plan.
We spent a lot of time working on balance and core strength, but not the “core strength” that you see on infomercials…the real thing. Looking at how your body responds to unpredictability and abnormal influences and then building a program to enable that reaction without concern. Truly understanding how far to stretch a muscle, and how frequently, was never something that I had taken into consideration, but I do now.
I had the second surgery just over a year ago and have already competed in the USA Track and Field 50k Nationals, the New Jersey 100 mile ultramarathon, a 24 hour adventure race, and a number of shorter races. I owe this all to Chris and Dave Matusz (the surgeon who operated on my back). I have a full slate of races scheduled for this year, including another IronMan and a 3 day adventure race. Again, all thanks to Chris and Dave.
Another benefit of working with Chris was the fact that I could talk to him about other injuries, not just the pains in my back. I have a type 4 separation on my right shoulder and a type 3 separation on my left (mountain biking accidents). He was also able to help me increase my strength and stability there, which has allowed me to improve my swim times.
Now that I have fully recovered, I can honestly say that I am a stronger athlete and more in tune with my body than I was in the years before the surgery. I expect to crush my old records and to be even more competitive than I was in my late 20s…..
Thanks again to Chris.
~Chris Rice | New Jersey