How Mary Brannagan’s injury led to treating star athletes, including Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
Mary Brannagan was a successful varsit y basketball player at the University of Windsor when she f irst became acquainted with a therapy room. “I suffered an injury in my undergrad years, and I wanted to f ix it , so I spent a lot of t ime with at hlet ic t herapists learning about it,” Brannagan says. Once her injury had healed, she was “hooked on athletes and how their bodies worked.”
Her affinity for anatomy and human biomechanics kick-started an illustrious career i n physiotherapy in which she has built an all-star lineup of clients in Windsor, Ont. Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson, as well as Team Canada’s f lag bearers for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir count on Brannagan to guard and rid their bodies of injury, but she spends most of her time with the elite running community. A runner herself, Brannagan is able to relate most to the track and field athletes she treats, which include Olympians Brandon McBride, Noelle Montcalm and Melissa Bishop.
“I just love dealing with people who take their craft seriously,” says Brannagan. “Good athletes are motivated – they do the homework I prescribe to them, and they know their bodies. They can tell me more readily when things do not feel right.”
Montcalm, a 400m hurdler, has been paying frequent visits to Brannagan since 2015, when the orthopaedic physiotherapist successfully treated Montcalm’s lingering foot pains. “Mary does not only treat the site of the injury; she pays full attention to the body and dedicates time in correcting the underlying biomechanical issue,” Montcalm says. Solving anatomical puzzles in unforeseen ways is trademark Brannagan. Her secret: continued education. “To be good,” she says, “you cannot stop learning once you are out of physiot herapy school.” L ately, she has been taking courses on the biomechanical implications of t horacic ring alignment. “Rib conf ig uration can affect your whole movement pattern, even if symptoms do not manifest right in the ribs. I cast a wide net when diagnosing the root of a problem.”
Perhaps her most accomplished client, Melissa Bishop, credits her consistent physical health to Brannagan’s ability to detect slight imperfections in her form. “Mary’s style encompasses everything,” says Bishop. “She deals with the spine and the thoracic rings. We do dry needling, and she checks my patterns of movement. Appointments with her are extensive; she is imperative to my success.”
Seeing her clients tear up the track is all the reward Brannagan needs. “Being around such dedicated, driven, and gifted people is really inspiring and motivating,” she says. “I want to be good for them. The mindset of being great rubs off.”
Melissa Bishop credits her consistent physical health to Brannagan’s ability to detect slight imperfections in her form.