“My favorite part of these races are the different, agile movements, like crossing monkey bars,” says the 33-year-old athlete. “But those movements are what triggered the most pain in my right shoulder.
“It felt like I might have to give up competing,” he says, after having found no relief after visits to his primary care physician, chiropractor and massage therapist. “But thinking I couldn’t do obstacle training anymore tore me to pieces.”
He had all but given up when he went to Ascension Via Christi’s Physical Therapy Center on Socora — not as patient but as a new PT aide.
It was in that role that he realized the benefit that physical therapy can play in the lives of patients experiencing pain from non-traumatic injuries like his, which he attributes to overuse.
“Then I was in the thick of it and watching patients improve from injuries like mine,” he says. So he scheduled an evaluation with physical therapist Theresa Hallacy for himself and spent the next six weeks working with her two times a week on his shoulder pain.
“After working with Theresa, I felt like it was just gone,” says Austin, in awe of what strengthening and mobility exercises did for his pain. “I thought it was never going to go away and it would have to be something I’d have to live with forever.”
Instead, he resumed training for the American Ninja Warrior tryouts, only to develop plantar fasciitis while doing incline training for a Colorado race.
But this time he didn’t hesitate to turn to PT to help with what he said was “the worst pain I’ve ever felt.”
He began working with physical therapist Melissa Warders, who specializes in Astym therapy and dry needling, who in addition to therapy recommended specific arch inserts for his exercise shoes.
Austin is once again able to walk barefoot without pain and has even shared some of Warders’ tips with his father, who has suffered from plantar fasciitis for years.
“He found some relief, too,” says Austin, who now routinely recommends PT to friends, family and fellow athletes.
Austin’s back on track for American Ninja Warrior tryouts next year, with the help of Ascension Via Christi Physical Therapy.
“If you want to keep doing your sport and doing what you love, you can’t keep wearing your body down,” he says. “Call a physical therapist.”
To learn more about physical therapy at Ascension Via Christi, please click here.