Wednesdays with the Women of Vitality: Annie

If you have been following our blog each week, you have been introduced to the founders and veteran physical therapists at Vitality and have also gotten a chance to meet Karen, who is likely your first encounter at our clinic.  Now it's time to get to know a few of our newer physical therapists.

Today, we’re introducing you to Anne Cumming.  You can call her Annie or, as some of her patients call her, "Zen PT."  She joined us in the summer of 2017 after graduating from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.  We were fortunate to train Annie during her student clinical affiliation earlier that fall/winter and then couldn't resist adding her to our team.  She adds a fresh set of eyes along with her experience as a Registered Yoga Teacher.

Meet Anne (Annie) Cumming: Zen PT

How and why did you decide to pursue physical therapy as a career?

While I've always gravitated towards health and science, I feel that it was my experience as a yoga teacher that pushed me towards pursuing a career in physical therapy.  As a developing teacher and yoga practitioner, I became increasingly curious about the different aches and pains that my students came to class with as well as how these issues could be addressed with movement.  As a teacher, I learned how to use movement as a therapeutic tool to influence my students' strength, flexibility, and mindfulness on the mat.  During this time, I found myself increasingly drawn to the rehabilitation process, and it just made sense that a career in physical therapy would provide the answers and education that I was looking for.

What did you do before starting at Vitality?

Before moving to Chicago to attend graduate school, I lived in Seattle and worked as a yoga teacher and X-ray technician at a wellness center.

What is your most memorable moment as a physical therapist?

My most memorable moment occurred the first time I witnessed the positive impact that the treatment I was providing had on a patient. This woman had led a very active lifestyle, but since the birth of her first child five years earlier, she had stopped participating in the activities she loved due to urinary leakage and feelings of pelvic heaviness.  Embarrassment and discomfort were preventing her from engaging fully in life with the people she loved most.  Together we were able to formulate a plan of care that kept her goals in the forefront and she made great progress.  For the first time in years, she was confident enough to return to group exercise classes with friends and soon was playing tennis with her kids.  I continue to get this elated feeling every time I watch my patients improve.  But that initial experience will always be most memorable.  I spent so many years in PT school learning the scientific foundations, examining research, and understanding how to apply evidence to practice and to be able to share in this experience with a patient is truly amazing. 

Describe Vitality in 3 words.

  • Supportive
  • Empowering
  • Accommodating

What makes Vitality different from some of the other physical therapy clinics in the area?

I've found that the therapists at Vitality really listen to and work with the unique, individual needs of each patient.  I think this is what makes treatment here so successful.  In addition to the specialized training that our therapists have, we are able to meet the needs of each patient by working one-on-one with the patients each session, modifying interventions and progressing towards goals based on insights gained through listening and learning from each patient's experience.

What advice do you have for women who are experiencing achiness, numbness, and/or radiating pain in their back or pelvic area, incontinence, or restricted movement?

I would say that these symptoms are your body's way of communicating, telling you that there is some kind of imbalance present.  Unfortunately, because our lives and schedules tend to be so busy, it is very common for these signals to be ignored, and a mind-body disconnect to perpetuate.  Ultimately, we end up compromising our quality of life, and living with what begins to be a "new normal" of achiness, numbness, incontinence, and so on.  Let us help you listen to what your body is telling you by examining what kind of an imbalance currently exists and teaching you how to respond appropriately to reduce pain and improve function.

What is your favorite yoga pose?

When I settle onto my yoga mat, my go-to posture is child's pose.  I start every one of my self practices in this way; it's become a check point for me.  I love the grounding nature of this position, where I can find ease, support, and listen to my breath.  It's a great posture in which to deepen breath work and find expansion in the spine and shoulders, which rarely get a break during busy days.

When not in the PT clinic, you can find me…

...probably doing something related to food.  I love trying new restaurants in Chicago and cooking!

At Vitality, we help women be at their best by specializing and treating disorders related to pelvic and back pain, bladder and bowel dysfunction, and restricted movement. Together, we’ll develop a personalized treatment plan to help you relieve your aches and pains, and support your body.

Contact us today!