My life as a runner took off when I got into running cross-country and track in high school.

I have been an athlete participating in a multitude of sports for most of my life, but when I joined the cross-country team, I knew I had found my passion. 

I instantly loved the feeling of freedom as my feet left the ground. I loved that it enabled me to set my stress aside and focus on the movement of my body. I loved the camaraderie of my team, and that I could push myself to be a little better than I was the week before.

If I were to define my running style, I would say that I am sort of a distance runner/sprinter hybrid by nature. In other words, I’m good at sprinting for a distance runner and I have good endurance for a sprinter. Either extreme is a challenge!

My Early Running Career

In track, I ran the 400, 800, 4 x 800 and 4 x 400-meter races. I have ran 10 k’s and too many 5 k’s to count. I ran my first half marathon at age 15 and won my age group.

When I first started running, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I went from running on the grass wearing soccer cleats to running significantly more miles on the pavement in old, worn-out running shoes.

I didn’t warm up or cool down properly on my own and, I didn’t do any strength training for my first season. Unsurprisingly, I got injured as a result. My cross-country coach sent me to the athletic trainer to rehabilitate my injury.

Sparking the Fire

The athletic trainer encouraged me to take his Sports Medicine class as an elective, and I’m so glad I did! Through this class, I was able to practice student athletic training for 3 years in high school. My experience helped me develop a love for rehabilitating injuries, which set me on the road toward becoming a physical therapist.

I was a student athletic trainer for the Men’s Varsity Basketball team and attended all of their practices and games to take care of injuries immediately as they occurred.

I had a lot of fun learning different tape jobs to stabilize an injury and special testing to figure out how best to help someone with each injury.  I also enjoyed helping out in the training room after school. Through this I learned a lot more about the clinical aspect of rehabilitation.

Special Experiences

During my sophomore year of high school, I got my first real taste of physical therapy. A woman who was on faculty at the school had surgery. She would come into the training room on the days when she was unable to attend her own physical therapy. I got to help her with some of her rehab.

These experiences lead me to my decision to shadow a physical therapist and learn more about physical therapy. The physical therapist did a lot of amazing soft tissue work and other hands-on treatments to help her patients feel better quickly and I couldn’t wait to learn how! I’ve known since my sophomore year of high school that I wanted to be a physical therapist.  

Accumulating Knowledge and Debunking Myths!

Since obtaining my doctorate degree in physical therapy I have learned a lot about preparing for running, boosting performance and sidelining injuries before they start.

I learned that some of the advice passed to me from other runners was golden and some of it was a total myth! It is important to take care of your body correctly so that it can be ready to carry you for miles and miles to come!

Katherine Hendrick, PT, DPT

Voted Best Physical Therapist in WNC 2018 by the Mountain XPress Readers Poll 

Tabitha McDonald