Physical therapist's passion for training is contagious

Nathan Smith, PT, Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation and OSU Triathletes
May 15,2012
More than 15 members of the Oregon State University Triathlon Club jogged around the Corvallis High School track on a cold, dark, rainy January evening.

The turnout was a great improvement over practices of years past, when only a couple of students would show up, said Blair Bronson, an OSU public health major who has been part of the Triathlon Club since 2007.

This commitment of student triathletes can be attributed in large part to volunteer coach Nathan Smith, a physical therapist from Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation in Corvallis.

“He brings the passion of the sport,” Bronson said of Smith.“He brings that love, and you catch it really quick. Even when only a couple of people showed up, he worked with them and gave them a good practice. That commitment is infectious.”

Smith, a 1997 graduate of OSU’s Exercise and Sport Science program, was an active member of the Triathlon Club as a student, training for triathlon events which include swimming, bicycling and running segments. He has volunteered as a coach since 2003.

“I make sure workouts are arranged so they are not progressing too fast,” Smith said. “I work on reducing impact, recognizing injuries, care of injuries, stretches — I want them to take care of themselves as they progress.”

Smith’s intimate knowledge of the sport and expertise as a physical therapist are highly valued among the student athletes. In addition to designing training plans for the athletes, Smith provides gait analysis, bike fittings, swimming analysis, shoe fitting and more, focusing on injury prevention as well as performance.

“For example, with a bike fitting, if you’ve had knee issues in the past, he can help fit you to your bike to make it easier on your knees,” Bronson said. “His perspective as a physical therapist is really, really helpful.”

After graduating this spring, Bronson hopes to stay connected with the OSU Triathlon Club. Whatever his future holds, he will take with him valuable lessons learned from Smith and the club.

“The club has taught me more than anything patience and to do things smarter, not harder,” he said. “One of Nate’s big points is to train smart. That’s a good take-away for me.”

Services such as gait analysis, swimming analysis, bike fitting, custom orthotics and shoe education are offered by Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation.

For more information, call (541) 768-5157, or visit www.samhealth.org/rehab.

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