A testament to a true collegial environment, I was introduced to Pat Gilhuly by member, Susan Metrick –– Susan and her daughter won the mother & child doubles match at the Connecticut Tennis Open last year. Pat is a mActivity member and tennis pro. During a recent interview, I quickly learned how humble and caring he is. Hesitant to talk about his own fitness routine or athletic accomplishments, Pat preferred to talk about his goal to spread the beautiful game of tennis and how he is helping others learn to play well.
Our conversation revealed an equally important reminder about health and mindfulness: we have to help ourselves before we can fully help others. Here’s how Pat finally accepted physical therapy.
Stephanie: When did you start playing tennis?
Pat: I grew up in Killingworth, Connecticut. Killingworth is along the shore, about a half hour from New Haven. I started playing tennis when I was about 4-5 years old and played at Old Saybrook Racquet Club with my dad. I ended up going to Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire for tennis and studied Sports Management.
I just love the whole game. The movement. The way the ball sounds when you strike it. When you go to matches and it gets quiet. When I started my tennis pro career, my focus became less about elevating my own game, and more about elevating other people. But, I recently learned a hard lesson about always putting others first.
Stephanie: What happened?
Pat: Over a year ago, I was giving a lesson on a clay court and slid laterally on my right ankle. The ground was soft, the clay was heavy, and my foot got caught in the ground. I rolled over the top of my ankle and I fell down in agony. It swelled up pretty bad.
I went to a few physical therapy appointments throughout the area, but got impatient and left without full recovery. It was almost outdoor season and, honestly, I didn’t want to make time for it. At that point, I felt like I could walk on it without much pain.
It didn’t take me long to realize my ankle wasn’t going to heal itself. My physical mobility was limited, and therefore limiting my ability to be the kind of tennis pro I want to be.
Stephanie: When did you finally accept help?
Pat: I know Wendy from the Lawn Club, and trusted her to help me start prioritizing physical therapy at mActivity. She has been so helpful and my ankle has already started to improve. I am able to put more pressure on it and I am way closer to being healed.
Stephanie: Wendy, what is Pat’s prognosis?
Wendy: His ankle joint is so tight that he can’t properly squat or move laterally. Even though he has an ankle injury, we also picked up on other impairments in his functional movement assessment––decreased flexibility and mobility including tight hamstrings and low back, also decreased core stability. Because Pat waited so long, it might take longer to rehab his ankle, but I’m hoping for 4-6 weeks, as long as he follows through with the assigned at-home program. He has to temper his game for now.
Stephanie: What specifically are you doing to start the healing process?
Wendy: We are working on his lower extremity flexibility and mobility and progressing to dynamic stabilization so he can get back to making a lot of sharp turns and cutting on the court. We’re using the Pilates reformer to work on lower extremity alignment and core stabilization; joint mobility on the ankle joint to increase ankle ROM and mobility; dry point needling to decrease inflammation and pain; and Pat is instructed in at-home exercises for strengthening, flexibility, balance and proprioception.
At the end of rehab, we will set him up with an in-house personal trainer to help his transition back to the gym. It’s important to screen with a physical therapist before jumping into personal training. The APTA recommends an annual physical therapy evaluation to screen for possible impairments and prevent injuries. We are in network with Anthem, Aetna and Medicare.
Stephanie: Pat, why did you chose mActivity:
Pat: Taking care of yourself shouldn’t be a huge inconvenience, and it has been easy to do at mActivity. More than staying active or staying fit, I am able to take care of things as they happen, when they happen, by accepting help from people that I trust.
The #mActivityPeople interview series focuses on the mindful lives and health routines of mActivity’s inspiring community. Submit your own on Instagram—post your mindful mActivity (tag us @mactivitynh!) and include the hashtag #mActivityPeople for a chance to be featured on our blog.