Kristin Bignell

Welcome.

Thanks for stopping by! I’m Kristin and I am a Registered Physiotherapist and the owner of East Mill Physio & empow(HER) Volleyball. Here you can learn a little bit about me, my story and why I do what I do. If you are looking for a more formal (but less exciting) record of my education and experience, you can find it HERE
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Kristin Bignell Volleyball

My journey through sport.

My personal experience with sport and movement started at a young age. Growing up I played several different sports. I swam, danced, played soccer and basketball. I did track and field and played volleyball. I was a pretty average young athlete but with a lot of hard work and a little height ;), I ended up landing a full ride to play NCAA Division 1 Volleyball at the University at Buffalo.

It was a once in a lifetime experience, one that I was very blessed to have, but, unfortunately, that experience came with a steep price tag and ended up costing me my health. Like many young athletes, I had experienced a few of "minor" injuries during my time in rec. sport. Some were acute injuries that seemingly healed on their own and others were overuse injuries that were managed with exercise and anti-inflammatories.
 
What I didn't know then was that these injuries and dysfunctions would later catch up to me.
By the time I made it to my sophomore year, I had really started to find my groove. I was receiving athletic honours and was ranked at the university, conference, and national level. However, as my athletic performance was peaking, my physical health was deteriorating.
 
Eventually, it all caught up to me. My body was unable to sustain the demands of my training schedule and I ended up having back surgery.  I was (thankfully!)  able to get back to playing for my final 2 years... BUT things never quite felt right and my performance was never the same. After graduating from UB, I decided it was best for my body to retire from competitive volleyball.

My experience through sport and my personal history with injury form a large part of the reason why I ended up with a career in physiotherapy and why I am passionate about using my skills and knowledge to support lifelong athleticism. It is also why I am so passionate about empowering young female volleyball players with the knowledge and skills they need to have happy and healthy playing careers.

Now, before you stop reading and think "she doesn't work with people like me" or "I'm not an athlete" stick with me until the end!

While my situation was far from ideal, it was not unique… and that is a problem! Knowing what I know now, there are so many things that could have been done differently to help keep me healthy and performing my best. My journey through sport and injury revealed deficits in the way that athletes, and particularly youth and female athletes, are supported through their life in sport. I am excited that my profession positions me in a way where I can strive to do better for others. 

I don’t believe anyone should have to stop doing the things they love because of pain or injury, and I believe everyone deserves to feel good doing the things they love. This begins with Proactive Physiotherapy and Education, and is supplemented by Comprehensive Injury Rehabilitation when required. I believe that my story could have been different...and I am on a mission to do better for other female volleyballers!

Living the dream.

Since graduating with my Masters in Physical Therapy, I have committed myself to learning and growing as a professional so that I can be the change that is needed to better support individuals in their sport and life. While this is a lifelong process, I am fortunate to have had some pretty great opportunities thus far.
Kristin Bignell
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Shortly after graduating from Physio school, I completed both the Advanced Neurofunctional Sports Performance Practitioner Program and the Main Contemporary Medial Acupuncture Programs at McMaster University. This skill has not only been practice-changing but life-changing as well. Check it out HERE. It was one of the two main things that helped me to recover fully from my old injuries and get back to playing volleyball without pain (more on the other thing later!). It has been so pivotal in my career and life that I have since returned to the program and am currently completing my second of year of training to become an Instructor. I thoroughly enjoy the creative approach inherent to the Neurofunctional model and enjoy pushing the boundaries of what we believe to be possible with respect to injury rehabilitation, injury prevention and performance optimization.

Kristin Bignell

In 2019, I had the opportunity to help out with the Guelph Storm providing Neurofunctional Performance Care prior to home games…which culminated in a pretty amazing end to the season (check out that Memorial Cup-->). It was definitely one of the highlights of my career thus far!

I have also had the opportunity to work with several professional and semi-professional athletes and have a special interest in working with youth and female athletes to develop the foundations necessary for lifelong athleticism. 

 

I also had the opportunity to complete an Elite NHL Mentorship Program (A program in Advanced Needling and Soft Tissue Techniques for the Elite Athlete) with Dr. Mike Prebeg, where I got to spend time at Gary Roberts Camp and Matt Nichol’s camp. It great to see the Neurofunctional Model of Performance Care used to keep elite athletes functioning fully and performing optimally, the principles of which can be applied to ALL individuals.

I have also completed several courses on core retraining for female athletes (including assessment and training for the pelvic floor, using an external approach) and am continually striving to advance my knowledge of core recruitment and movement patterning as it relates to rehab, injury prevention and sports performance. This piece of the puzzle was the second thing that helped me confidently return to playing volleyball without pain, several years after my surgery!

Kristin Bignell

Why East Mill Physio.

I believe that we all deserve to live a life where we are able to participate in the activities we love, for life. We all have an extraordinary capacity to achieve our health and performance goals when equipped with the right education and holistic support. Starting my own practice has allowed me the freedom to help others do just that.
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East Mill Physio was born out of the craziness of 2020 and has grown to include extensive programming to empower and support young female volleyball athletes. While having my own practice was not originally something I had ever imagined doing, it has ended up being the best option for me to be able to practice in a way that is aligned with my values and set up in the way that I can best support my clients in achieving their goals.

Feeling good and moving well starts with empowering individuals with the information needed to build their support system, advocate for themselves and to take action that is tailored to their unique needs. Building this foundation sets the stage for healthy and lifelong participation in all of the activities and roles we love. 

If you move and you have goals, I consider you an athlete and I am here to support you.

 

If you are frustrated with traditional physiotherapy or are looking for something different, I am here for you.

 

If you want to learn more about your body and its unique needs, I am here to empower you.

 

Whatever it is you need, I am here to help you create a plan that will best support you in your health and lifelong performance. 

Let’s work together to help you stay injury free, feeling good and playing your best, for life.

Kristin Bignell
  • MScPT (Master of Science Physical Therapy)  - University of Toronto 

  • BScES (Bachelor of Exercise Science) - State University of New York at Buffalo

  • Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Graduate -  McMaster University

  • Neurofunctional Sports Performance      Practitioner - McMaster University

  • Sport Physiotherapy Certificate (Candidate) - SPC

Kristin Bignell, PT