Amanda’s Back Story: Living like She Never Had Pain 

Pictured: Amanda Espitia riding her bicycle

Lower back pain isn’t always the result of lifting something heavy or bending in a weird way. For a lot of people, back pain can come out of nowhere during an activity you previously had no problems with. For triathlete Amanda Espitia, that activity was riding her bicycle.

“Cycling caused debilitating back pain every time I rode outside over the summer. Every 8-10 miles I would have to get off my bike and stretch. I slowed down significantly and I hated cycling.”

When you have to stop doing the things you love because of pain, it’s definitely time to seek out help, which is exactly what Amanda did.

“I thought it was a poor bike fit, so I visited the bicycle shop about 6 times over the course of a month making tweaks to my bike fit. Eventually, my back pain spread to times in my life when I wasn’t even biking. It became a constant source of frustration and agony. Finally, my bike fitter, Anne Barnes, recommended I visit Body Gears. After making every adjustment we could to my bike, she suggested the problem might be with my body!”  

Adjusting your environment is a great first step to eliminating pain, however, Anne was right to recommend that Amanda see a physical therapist after her pain began spreading beyond cycling into other areas of her life.

“I set up an appointment with a therapist at Body Gears and the office called and said they recommend I see Elizabeth instead because she was better equipped to handle my circumstances. I appreciated that the owner looked at my profile and saw my unique story. It made me feel like I wasn’t just a number.”

Dr. Elizabeth Raccioppi is a Physical Therapist and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer who is adept at treating all types of athletes from the competitive power-lifter to the recreational weekend warrior and had this to say about Amanda:

“As Amanda is a triathlete, I looked at her overall posture, body mechanics and gait mechanics to make sure we weren’t missing any contributing factors from any of her other activities. We addressed proper hip hinge, sitting and standing posture, and treated any mechanical restrictions we encountered along the way.”

With regular physical therapy sessions, Amanda noticed a major difference not just in her body, but in the type of care she received.

“I saw Elizabeth every week for about 3 months and appreciated how I had her undivided attention during our 40-minute sessions. I’ve done physical therapy at other companies and I might have had the PT’s attention for 5 minutes and I was on my own doing stretches for the remaining 15 minutes. Elizabeth didn’t treat me or my issues like I was just another patient. She didn’t give me a one size fits all solution. She really listened to me week after week and adjusted my therapy based on progress or issues.”  

Monitoring progress is an essential component to effective physical therapy and something that was central to Elizabeth’s care plan.

“We made sure to gradually get Amanda back to cycling and running with graded exposure. I set Amanda up with a great home exercise program for progressive strengthening and she’s now back to triathlon training.”

While being able to cycle without lower back pain and train for triathlons pain-free were Amanda’s primary goals, treatment doesn’t just stop there. Ensuring other aspects of Amanda’s life, such as the way her posture at work contributes to or hinders her overall progress, is an equally important component to a successful care plan.

“I also appreciated how Elizabeth didn’t just treat my lower back pain. She created a holistic approach to resolving the pain that included my sitting posture at work, standing posture, strengthening certain muscles around my back, and most importantly, how I mentally approached the pain. When I had a setback in my progress, we realized that some of the pain was caused by stress, fear, and a constant focus on the pain. With a combination of the exercises Elizabeth gave me, our weekly sessions, and the change in mindset, I have had no back pain in over a month. I enjoy biking again, I’m pain-free, and most importantly, I have confidence. I couldn’t be happier!”

Pain, especially in the absence of a traumatic injury, should always be treated with the holistic approach Amanda described because there’s usually more than one contributing factor. The secret to staying pain-free is to identify all these factors and employ management strategies for each one.

“I received therapy that was tailored to my body and my issues. I wasn’t given a one size fits all plan to address my lower back pain. She even came to a strength training class to watch me perform exercises and offer suggestions for doing them pain-free. Elizabeth and I took each week individually and assessed progress on my pain and what we still needed to accomplish. She helped me to see that we shouldn’t just correct the pain in isolation. The back pain was a symptom of other issues and everything needed to be addressed. She helped me build confidence in myself in addition to a stronger body free of pain!”

Our therapists recognize that the time our patients spend in therapy is just a drop in a bucket filled with all the other things our patients have going on their lives. The more we can incorporate physical therapy into our patient’s lives outside the clinic, the better the results and that’s exactly with Elizabeth did.

“I observed Amanda at her Boot Camp class to make sure she was performing strength training with appropriate form and technique. This helped to maximize what she got out of physical therapy – we were able to add more advanced strength training to the process which helped significantly. After all of this, pain science education helped Amanda get over the hump and finally be pain-free.” 

Physical therapy isn’t just about strengthening muscles. Amanda’s ability to recognize that her focusing on the pain was contributing to it might sound like a simple lesson but it’s one that many people struggle with daily. It takes a dedicated and multifaceted approach to treat pain and Amanda knows the rewards are well worth it.

“I can’t emphasize enough the change in mindset. I view my pain differently. I no longer let fear dictate my thoughts. I no longer let the pain consume my life or prevent me from doing the activities I love. I now go through life pain-free and happy! Biking no longer causes issues, I can stand for long periods of time with little pain, and I can go through day to day life without dread or fear of pain. It’s like I never even had pain. I actually feel better than I did before the summer!”

If you’d like to feel as good as Amanda, click here to discover how we can change your story. We believe that freedom of movement is the foundation of a healthy and satisfying life. We look forward to serving you and we welcome your questions, comments, and enquiries.

As always, consult with your Licensed Physical Therapist for individualized advice. For those in Illinois, visit your PT immediately without a prescription or referral.

Give us a call at (877) 709-1090 for more information or fill out the contact us form and we will contact you.

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