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Jointworx is all about feeling better

Shani Magosky
Preston Utley/Vail Daily Sarah Manwiller of Jointworx physical therapy in Edwards stretches the knee of Eagle-Vail patient Ray Sforzo.
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EDWARDS – Sara Manwiller says knew she wanted to be a physical therapist from the time she was 12 years old. All those years of dreaming and planning have culminated in the opening of her Edwards clinic, Jointworx Physical Therapy.Manwiller grew up in Richmond, Va., an avid athlete. After developing shin splints running junior high school track, she sought the services of a physical therapist and decided it was the perfect job for her, she says. She never wavered from those young aspirations. After completing her undergraduate degree in sports medicine at the University of Virginia, Manwiller went on to obtain her graduate education in physical therapy at the Medical College of Virginia.Manwiller practiced in Virginia for only one year before being lured out to the ski slopes of Colorado. While visiting Summit County in 1995, she was offered a job at a Copper Mountain physical therapy clinic and decided to stay for a permanent vacation. It was at this facility that she met her husband and current business partner, Mike Christenberry, a massage therapist. The new couple found it difficult to make a stable, year-round living in Copper Mountain, so they decided to head a little further west to the Vail Valley. From 1996 until 2004, Manwiller ran her physical therapy practice out of space rented from Colorado Chiropractic and Sports Medicine in Vail and Edwards. Meanwhile, Christenberry was practicing massage therapy at the Aria Spa in the Vail Cascade Resort.During those eight years, Manwiller’s practice flourished and outgrew the Colorado Chiropractic space, she says. Putting their heads together to devise a solution, Manwiller and Christenberry decided to acquire their own office and make the business a family affair. They strongly believed that the combination of her extensive physical therapy experience and his therapeutic massage expertise could truly benefit patients and expedite recovery, she says.

Three-pronged painJointworx opened its doors in Edwards Village Center II last May, 2004 with a mission “to help each patient regain functional, pain-free living,” Manwiller says. They achieve this goal via “personalized rehabilitation solutions,” programs of treatment that are individualized for each patient, she says. “We customize a patient’s treatment based on exactly what’s needed,” says Manwiller. “Standard protocols are not always appropriate.”The range of treatments available at Jointworx is diverse. They treat most nerve, muscle, and joint pain and also design post-surgical therapies for common injuries such as ACL and rotator cuff tears.”I went to Jointworx to address some long-term shoulder and hip issues, and they’ve done very individualized work on me,” says patient Marcia Bottomly. “Sara is on top of the latest research and Mike’s massage work is superb. I’m definitely on the right track.”In addition, Manwiller and her staff specialize in spinal issues, chronic pain, and women’s health physical therapies, she says. Among the specific women’s health issues they treat are pregnancy-related pain, pelvic pain, and bladder training.”Sara’s expertise in incontinence and post-childbirth issues is exceptional,” says Dr. Katherine Skaggs, a local physician who refers many patients to Jointworx. “The clinic provides a comforting environment with a private, personal setup conducive to treating female issues.”The therapists at Jointworx also utilize much more manual therapy than is common in the industry, Manwiller says.

In addition to exercises, they use hands-on techniques such as joint mobilization and manipulation, nerve glides, and massage therapy, and that’s where Christenberry and his massage team come in.”Any orthopedic pain problem has three components: muscles/soft tissue, nerves and joints,” says Manwiller. “If only one aspect is addressed, the patient will not get 100 percent better. But if all three are addressed with a holistic approach, patients will recover faster.” The massage therapists work under the guidance of the physical therapists to provide specifically directed, therapeutic massage, she says. Yoga therapyA more recent addition to the Jointworx treatment menu is rehabilitation yoga. Anusara yoga instructor and physical therapy aide Gina Janucik teaches the class on Tuesdays at noon and Thursdays at 6 p.m. One of the physical therapists is always at the class to supervise and make adjustments. The classes cost $10 and a multi-class discount is available.Continuing education is another important element to the Jointworx business model, Manwiller says. Although physical therapists are not required to take continuing education classes in Colorado, Manwiller says she and her staff strive to stay informed about the newest, most effective treatment techniques. She and her therapy staff recently completed updated training in knee and shoulder rehabilitation, dynamic stability and spinal manipulation, she says.

On the massage side, Christenberry has been taking classes at the Rolf Institute in Boulder. “Rolfing,” named for creator Dr. Ida Rolf, is a term referring to the deep manipulation of the body’s myofascial system. The goal of this intensive work is to balance the posture and structure of the body.For the past two years, Manwiller has provided free injury screenings at the Avon Rec Center on Mondays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Alternatively, potential patients can also arrange for a free consultation at Jointworx.Vail, Colorado


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