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Never say quit

By MOLLY VANNATTA and JANET RAASCH

June 14, 2009

Physical therapist Rick Wagner of Body Renovation Physical Therapy in Grafton helped competitive runner Cristin Van Driel rejuvenate her body from the ill effects of an accident years ago. She is training to qualify for the 2012 Olympic marathon trials.


Cristin Van Driel was cycling in July of 2000 when a 16-year-old driver hit her at 55 mph. When the teen took her eyes off the road to change a CD, Van Driel was thrown 30 to 40 feet and landed on the car’s windshield. She suffered a broken back, crushed ribs and a concussion, as well as other serious injuries.

Van Driel, 29, was forced to turn to physical therapy to help repair both her body and her spirit. "I felt that there was a reason I was not paralyzed and that I was given the chance to use the gift of running to inspire others and show others that withperseveranceand determination you can overcome major setbacks," Van Driel says.

"There were many points while recovering that I wanted to give up," the Grafton resident says. "I remember the first time I was allowed to go outside (about three weeks after the accident). It took me an hour to walk less than two miles."

Van Driel also credits her good health and fitness to her successful recovery. "All the doctors and my physical therapist, Rick (Wagner of Body Renovation Physical Therapy), have told me numerous times that I recover much faster because of my overall strength and fitness level."

"The first time you talk to Cristin you just feel the passion in her spirit," Wagner says. "It’s that drive and motivation and that inability to not succeed at doing something that has really helped getting her to the point where she is today," he says.

When Van Driel sought Wagner’s help in January 2008, she was on crutches and unable to put any weight on her left hip due to a stress fracture sustained from her rigorous running schedule of more than 100 miles a week. Though Van Driel was training hard and fighting through the pain, her body had never fully healed from the accident, Wagner says. "Her body was a broken down machine that needed to be retooled a bit," Wagner says. They worked on improving her strength, core, flexibility and mobility. "She’s a much smarter athlete now than she was a year ago," Wagner says.

Now Van Driel is a certified personal trainer at Form & Fitness in Mequon, and coaches runners through her own company, Ultimate Stamina, where she specializes in coaching and training. She uses lessons learned from the physical therapy experience to coach runners, and in her daily life as a competitive runner. "I can relate to clients who might be struggling with injuries or illnesses. However, I also have learned the importance of listening to what your body is telling you. What might work for one person will probably not work for another," Van Driel says.

Van Driel trains two to three hours daily, in addition to continued physical therapy and coaching. Her personal strength creates a Lance Armstrong-like philosophy for herself and her clients: "Never give up. Quitting lasts forever."

 


This story ran in the April 2009 issue of: