Do not work in extremes. As an example, do not ignore exercise all week only to then cram in all workouts and sports on the weekends. This is not optimal for the mind nor the body.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ioonna Félix. Ioonna Félix PT, DPT, OCS, SCS, CTPS is the Site Manager, of HSS Sports Rehabilitation and Performance — West Side. Her treatment specialties include sports injuries, injuries pertinent to overhead and combative athletes, and hip pathologies. Additionally, Ioonna specializes in the rehabilitation, performance and clinical research of racquet sport athletes of all levels with a particular focus on tennis players.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
I first got involved in sports when my sister introduced me to tennis at the age of 13. The moment I hit my first ball over the net I knew instantly that I had found my sport. My tennis development grew in unison with my love for science. By college I knew I wanted to be in health care. At that time my father sustained a baseball injury and was undergoing physical therapy. That was my introduction to PT where I was attracted to the ability to spend time with patients, address their injuries and help them return to their goals.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting thing in my career is likely my current position where I am afforded the opportunity to work with professional athletes while treating in the sports medicine realm on a daily basis. My job presently entails treating patients and developing different projects while also traveling to cover tennis tournaments and presenting to other professionals internationally.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
I was evaluating a patient’s knee and I finished the interview portion of the exam. I tell the patient, “I am going to step out of the room so you can undress. When you are ready for me open the door.” He opens the door and is standing there in his underwear. I had to explain to the patient that, since it was an exam for his knee, he could keep his shirt and gym shorts on. The patient laughed and quickly got dressed.
Comical at the time it did teach me the lesson about being clear with one’s instructions and messages. How often do we take for granted a quick statement we make? I realized that everyone interprets directions differently. Different cultures have different perceptions when asked to do something by a healthcare professional. Since then I have learned to be clear, direct and concise to minimize any misunderstandings.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I have been practicing in the physical therapy world for over 15 years. 15 years is a long time and I take pride in not allowing myself to become stagnant in my approach. As a result, I have become board certified in both orthopedics and sports rehabilitation. Additionally, my passion for tennis and sports medicine have lead me to specialize in tennis rehabilitation as well as hip and overhead shoulder injuries. Moreover, my professionals interests have afforded me the ability to lecture internationally and be published on a variety of topics.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I think it’s hard to pinpoint one person but it reminds me of the quote “it takes a village …” my success is built upon many mentors first and foremost my parents who immigrated to the US and instilled in my sister and me the value of education and hard work. Furthermore, I have the fortune of being mentored by both a co- worker and a friend. The coworker has a wealth of knowledge in the field and has been crucial for me along my path. My friend is a former CEO of an established brand and has provided invaluable feedback in all of my decisions. Both these mentors have challenged me to be better in my profession. I am grateful to my husband for supporting me on every step of my journey. He has spent countless hours talking with me, reading my presentations, and helping me grow in my career.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
A. Work schedules
B. Financial Limitations
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
A. Accountability: Stop making excuses
B. Build exercise into your daily routine, even if it is only 10 or 15min. Treat exercise just like brushing your teeth, a part of your everyday routine. Set a timer, set aside a small space and go.
C. Ensure that quality sleep is a priority. Stop using computers, cell phones, and your iPad 1 hour before bed and do not keep them on your night table.
D. Take 2–3 min per day to stop and check in on yourself. Maybe close your eyes and work on your breathing. Breathing is a great simple tool that helps with posture and resetting your mind and body.
E. Do not work in extremes. As an example, do not ignore exercise all week only to then cram in all workouts and sports on the weekends. This is not optimal for the mind nor the body.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
Stability and mobility breathes movement efficiency. What I mean by that is we need to remember that our bodies are our engines. Whether performing day to day activities like running after the kids or playing a sport we need to have a balance of musculoskeletal stability and mobility for the body to run well. We put effort into maintaining our cars and our bodies are no different.
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
Exercise is best broken up to into different categories such as strengthening, flexibility, endurance and power. I recommend you perform an exercise in each category. For example, walking might be your cardio. Consider incorporating bridging as a lower body strengthening exercise while adding a hip flexor or quadriceps stretch for flexibility. Most importantly, be sure to speak with a health care professional for guidance before starting any exercise program.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
As physical therapists the 2 main problems I see are 1) playing a sport for fitness and 2) lack of a comprehensive musculoskeletal program. People have to realize that playing a sport will not make you strong or mobile. On the contrary, one has to be conditioned and work on each element of the sport in order to play it well. This is your easiest way to reduce injuries especially in regards to overuse injuries. What I mean by a lack of comprehensive musculoskeletal program is that too often I see people performing only 1 type of exercise. An individual may only run or perform the exact same weight lifting exercises week after week. To prevent injury, short and long term, everyone needs to cross train. Having an optimal program that encompasses strength, mobility, stability, endurance, movement prep and recovery/rest is crucial for longevity and balance.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Donald A. Neumann: Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System
This book opened my understanding and appreciation for the musculoskeletal system and the link between structure and function. Ultimately this resulted in a career in sports rehabilitation.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Bringing more diversity to orthopedics especially sports rehabilitation. In particular, I would encourage more women to consider orthopedics and sports medicine as a career. This is a world dominated by men and I feel a large part of that is due to a lack of exposure at a young age. I wish we could reach more high school and college students and expose them to the world of sports rehab.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” Ayn Rand
This has been relevant in my life when I have run into obstacles or hardships. One has to remind oneself that only you, not others, can achieve what you want from your life and career. You cannot let others lead your life. I work hard, tackling constant obstacles, and will not let other stops me from my goals.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Billie Jean King. This might seem an obvious choice with my passion for sports and tennis. Billie Jean King is a person whom I respect as an athlete (not solely a female athlete but athlete in every sense of the word) as well as one of the most courageous and strongest people in history. She is known for much more than her prowess on the tennis court. She has forehanded herself into the history books as an advocate for gender equality in all walks of life. Put simply, she used tennis for social change and helped to create opportunities for all of us including myself. I can relate firsthand to the hardships she faced throughout her career.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!