A Different Route

-Melissa Allen

“It’s really important for people to realize that your body is really powerful; It can heal itself. I would always try conservative efforts before you do make extreme changes to your body’s mechanics.”

LAST year, after experiencing pain in her foot and ankle, Melissa Allen was diagnosed with posterior tibial tendonitis with a partial tear. Frustrated that she couldn’t hike Mt. Cardigan with her family, as she had done every year since she was a teenager with her high school sweetheart (now husband) and nervous about what the diagnosis meant for her as a teacher, she started weighing her options…

“Surgery for me is a big deal. And, the healing time for this particular procedure is three months plus. I teach elementary school for a living. I’m on my feet all day. I CAN’T be OFF my feet.” A few tests and second opinions later, Melissa decided to proceed conservatively with PT before having surgery and walked into Cioffredi & Associates in her boot for her first appointment with Billy Cioffredi, PT.

“We tried a number of things – hand work, NEUBIE, and baby steps into exercises… Some days I’d be feeling great and we’d give the ole tendon a good workout. Other days, we’d have to back up and start again. Each time, however, recovery was faster. I’d practice my homework exercises multiple times a day all while teaching elementary school (Yes, I’d be doing heel raises while teaching!)… Eventually, I started trying hills and uneven surfaces. At my last appointment Billy and I set a goal of climbing Mount Cardigan by July 2023.”

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“[In May], I got a call from my three year old niece, Brinley. She called to ask me to climb Mount Cardigan. I wasn’t sure I was up for it (ankle-wise), but I have a serious case of FOMO and so, I accepted her invitation! I rolled out my calf muscle, packed my hiking poles, braced my ankle, and tied on my hiking boots. My husband and I met Brinley, her sister Autumn, and my sister in law, Hilary in the parking lot and we headed up the mountain. And, guess what? I made it up the mountain and back down and my ankle is good! I did it and I BEAT my goal… there’s nothing like a little kid asking you to climb a mountain! Now I’m looking forward to more hikes… And I can’t wait to be back in snowshoes! (No, I don’t want it to snow yet, but I can’t wait to be back snowshoeing and cross country skiing and doing those things that I’ve typically done in the winter.)”

“At the end of the day, it was all about the community: The people, the support. I had great physical therapy support, great footwear support, orthotics support. I supported myself in trying to get my exercises done. I had my family cheering me on… And my students were awesome! This particular group, that I had this year, was almost like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood; I didn’t want to miss a single day of school, but I was at the point where I even had a conversation with my principal: “It’s looking like I’m going to need surgery and I might have to be out.” In my heart, I knew that was the wrong thing to be doing… This group as a whole, it was such a joy to work with and I just felt like they really made the difference in my recovery.“

“Through our teamwork we were able to get me on my feet again – literally.”

Melissa reaches her goal of getting back to climbing Mount Cardigan with her family!

This article first appeared in the July 2023 Cioffredi & Associates Newsletter. Read more here:


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