Up Front With Dr. Andrew Pritikin: Pritikin Physical Therapy Founder
Posted Jul. 9, 2013, 9:17 am
Brenton Garen / Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Andrew Pritikin, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) is a sports and orthopedic manual therapist who believes that recovery isn’t just physical – it’s personal.
Dr. Pritikin was born and raised in West LA, and graduated USC in 2008 with a doctoral degree in physical therapy.
Since then he has worked with Santa Monica College as the self-defense and Sports Injury instructor, the US Olympic Team, pro mixed martial art fighters, Junior Olympians, a professional ballet company, Weekend Warriors, and everyday athletes who want to maintain physical health.
He works hands on, literally, with the athletes and uses his extensive background in physical therapy, martial arts, and yoga to correct existing injuries.
A lifelong athlete and a practitioner of the martial arts for over 25 years, Dr. Pritikin understands that exercise is not a luxury, rather a necessity.
His goal is to have his patients return to their physical activity as quickly and safely as possible.
Dr. Pritikin will be one of the judges at the 2nd annual Santa Monica’s Got Trainers Challenge on July 27 as part of The Chamber’s 28th Annual Wellbeing Health and Fitness Festival.
How has Pritikin Physical Therapy evolved?
Pritikin Physical Therapy evolved from my personal experiences being a life-long athlete. The intensity of the physical activity would mean that often times I would be injured in some fashion, but would still need to train.
This is the mind-set of an athlete, injury must not stop me.
I found that this was a realistic interpretation of thought from like-minded individuals from all sports.
Officially, thus theoretically, I must stop all physical activity until I heal.
Realistically this was not going to happen.
When an athlete stops training, multiple negative factors come into the picture – depression, deconditioning, and loss of skill.
While practicing martial arts, I have to admit that I have injured everything at least once.
This gives me the empathic knowledge of what my patient is feeling.
I founded Pritikin Physical Therapy to address the person with an active lifestyle.
I treat very aggressively with the majority of manual therapy techniques to get my patients back onto the court, field, or pool as fast as possible.
If they just are not ready to return to their sport just yet, then I design a therapeutic exercise program based on the activity to keep them as active as possible before their return.
I tell every one of my patients this, “You do not like Brussels sprouts, but you have to eat them. You can either eat them leaf-by-leaf, or swallow them whole. Here at Pritikin Physical Therapy, you will eat them whole.”
The meaning is that the aggressive manual techniques will push the patients to the limit of their tolerance. I do not run a spa, so if you want a massage there are plenty in the area.
Here you will get therapy that will be intense, sometimes painful, yet always making you feel better when you are done.
You have created local fitness programs with Santa Monica College and Big Blue Bus, can you tell us about these partnerships?
I taught at Santa Monica College both as the Women’s Self Defense instructor and teaching the Sports Injury class. I loved teaching and look forward to doing it again.
Before I took both classes, I looked at the syllabus and immediately put them in the trash.
I focused on student interaction and first hand experience that would allow the students to become intimately involved in what they were learning.
If we were learning about a shoulder injury, for example, I would ask if any student had hurt their shoulder. They would come up to the front of the class and I would demonstrate testing for the injury and the treatment that would follow.
My syllabi are still being used today for the classes.
The Big Blue Bus Company did a wonderful proactive campaign to prevent back injury for Santa Monica City bus drivers.
I developed a strengthening and stretching program that they could perform using their bus as their exercise equipment during their breaks from driving.
Driving for so many hours in the day puts the body in a poor postural position.
By the end of the day, the drivers were fatigued and this driving posture became worse.
I devised a way for them to get the necessary exercises incorporated in their driving shifts.
For example, I had them use the step onto the bus to stretch their hamstrings and calves, and the vertical poles to stretch their chest in order to maintain proper driving posture.
I was able to have the drivers participate in their own prevention and it paid off.
The drivers had less back pain, which translated into fewer days off and less medical leave.
What other community involvement and collaborations have you had in Santa Monica?
I was a judge last year in the Trainers Challenge in 2012 with Lori Corbin who is the health and fitness reporter for the Channel 7 news.
Lori and I have collaborated on health and fitness stories in the past. She is the best and really knows her stuff.
The people loved watching the trainers compete against each other, but something was missing.
We realized that the people watching were not relating to the trainers on stage because it was something they could not do.
This year the challenge will include a workout that can be performed by anyone and will be given out freely for them to take home and try themselves.
By including everyone in the exercise, it makes it more functional.
How important is it to put health professionals in front of the community as will happen at the festival on July 27?
Health professionals must offer themselves and their information to people who need it. It reminds me when I go to an event or party, or on a plane.
When people ask what I do for a living and I tell them, I usually have four to five people telling me their problems. Some professionals do not like this, I consider it to be part of the job.
It is vital for health professionals to offer information that is helpful and valuable in their everyday lives.
Some people do not have access to health care, either because of high insurance rates or just the hectic lifestyle in this poor economy.
I love being able to connect with someone who does not know why they are hurting and being able to explain to them in everyday terms what is going on in their body, and most importantly, what they can do about it.
What do you love most about Santa Monica?
There really is no other place like Santa Monica in the world. The entire community is based on health and wellness, the prevention of disease.
On any given day, at any given time you can find people exercising and doing what they can to stay healthy. I do not know of one area in the U.S. that has more yoga studios in such a small area.
What would you say to the Santa Monica resident if they were interested in starting an exercise program?
I would have to tell them to start slow and try the huge variety of different types here in Santa Monica.
If you are interested in running, try walking one block then slowly jogging the next.
If this suits your fancy, there are great running clubs in Santa Monica, such as the LA Leggers, that meet on the weekends so you can run with other people of your same speed.
Or if you want to try yoga, there are so many different types here. You can try Naam yoga, or hot yoga and many others.
If finances are preventing you from trying different exercise programs, the best bang for your buck is Santa Monica College.
You can find any sport, whether it is a field sport or swimming, for a very reasonable price.