Mary Bran­na­gan

How Mary Bran­na­gan’s in­jury led to treat­ing star ath­letes, in­clud­ing Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir

Canadian Running - - DEPARTMENTS - By Alex Cyr Alex Cyr is is a grad­u­ate stu­dent and var­sity track run­ner liv­ing in Wind­sor, Ont.

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.

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