Leading By Example: PA Brings Health and Fitness Lifestyle to Local Orthopedics Patients | TheUnion.com
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Leading By Example: PA Brings Health and Fitness Lifestyle to Local Orthopedics Patients

Leading By Example: PA Brings Health and Fitness Lifestyle to Local Orthopedics Patients-072021

by Mary Beth TeSelle, Special to The Union

For James Mabry, the need to always be in motion began early.

James Mabry, a physician assistant working in orthopedics and sports medicine, draws on his personal experience as an endurance runner and lifelong athlete to support his patients. On his rest days, he enjoys hiking with his family, shown here on a recent hike near Donner Pass. In the back from left to right is James Mabry, Sarah Mabry, Aidan Mabry; in the front from left to right is Kilian Mabry and Augustine Mabry.

“Growing up I was always very active,” Mabry says. “I started soccer at four years old and played until I was 17 years old. My coaches noticed from a young age that I had great endurance. I played tee ball but only lasted a couple seasons as it wasn’t active enough for me. I got bored.”

He found his true passion when his dad made his own decision to pursue a healthier lifestyle.



“My Dad was a smoker when I was little and when he quit, he started running,” Mabry explains. “He became a marathoner. I remember fondly riding my bike in Davis on the bike paths while my Dad was doing his training runs.”

Soon James ditched the bike and began running too – first logging miles running high school cross country and now as an avid endurance runner conquering as many as 50 miles at a time. When he’s not running, he likes to backpack and hike with his wife and three children.



Now, Mabry (a nationally board certified physician assistant) is bringing his passion for active living to his professional life, too. After spending the last nine years working in hospital medicine, he has joined Dr. Todd Christensen and the orthopedics team at Dignity Health Medical Group – Sierra Nevada.

“Due to my running background, I have always had an interest in sports medicine and orthopedics,” Mabry says. “After speaking with Dr. Christensen, I knew that Dignity Health Medical Group would be a great fit for both my interests and for work-life balance.”

Mabry’s personal experience with sports medicine and injury prevention began when he was just 18.

“I was having a lot of knee pain and I could not keep training,” he says. “I stopped running for a few years.”

Eventually Mabry saw a sports physical therapist who provided a game plan to get him back to running, including at-home exercises that made a huge difference.

“I did my therapy religiously,” he says. “The PT was right and within a few months I was running again – slower, but running! Over time I progressed and achieved personal bests in both the marathon and the 50-mile ultra-marathon. Shameless plug to all patients – please do your at-home physical therapy exercises! They work!”

Mabry is looking forward to working with patients to help them not only recover from injuries, but also prevent them in the first place.

“I believe that injury prevention is multifactorial,” he says. “I have found that a regular stretching routine is important as I tend to get tightness on my left side. I have my own set of stretches that I follow but I have done yoga in the past as well. I also believe that taking days off is important, rest days as they are called in the running community.”

Mabry says he uses his rest days to exercise with his family, going for hikes and walks where he lets them set the pace.

He also recommends weight training to help prevent injuries, which can help build up your supporting muscles to protect your joints.

For anyone looking to get started with a fitness routine, Mabry says the first step is consistency.

“Many weekend warriors get injured because their bodies are not used to the stress of an activity,” he explains. “If you haven’t walked for a year, don’t try to go to Tahoe and do a ten-mile hike! You are likely to injure yourself. Instead go to Tahoe and find a three-mile hike this weekend and work up to the ten-mile hike. I follow the 10% rule for adding mileage: Do not add more than 10% per week and no more than 10% on any particular day. It will take time to build up but you are less likely to find yourself on the couch with an injury.”

If you don’t know where to start, Mabry recommends the American Heart Association’s six-week beginner walking program, which you can find online (search “AHA six week walk program”) or you can get a copy by stopping by the Dignity Health Medical Group – Sierra Nevada Orthopedics office.

Mabry also recommends using a balanced, nutritious diet to support overall health and wellness.

“Over the years I have transitioned to a more plant-based diet,” he says. “My mom had a heart attack in her 50s and so I started to pay more attention to what I was putting in my body. I grew up eating red meat a few times a week to now eat it maybe once a month at most. My wife has made eating plant-based much easier because she is a great cook!”

Of course, whether it is your diet or your exercise routine, Mabry believes balance is key.

“My personal philosophy in life is about balance. I believe that enjoying life is just as important as longevity. So while most nights you will find me eating my veggies, I still enjoyed my ribs with a beer a few weeks ago at a family Independence Day celebration!”


You can see James Mabry, PA-C, and Dr. Todd Christensen and the rest of the Dignity Health Medical Group – Sierra Nevada Orthopedics team at 280 Sierra College Drive, Suite 105, Grass Valley.

To reach them by phone, call 530.477.4480.


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