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Kathy Bono with her husband, John

After successful physical therapy, Mary Russo is back on the farm with her husband, Bob.

Oh, My Aching Back

Get Back on Track with Physical Therapy

"I really had to be re-educated and unlearn my bad habits, so that I could learn to move and lift things the right way."


In Texas County, Mo, a 400-acre farm sits as the designated center of the U.S. census population. Here, using a trusty antique tractor around a century-old farmhouse, Mary Russo and her husband keep an active pace in an idyllic setting, with Mary often found hunting, fishing, and refurbishing their weekend getaway. Never far from her long list of to-dos are core strengthening exercises targeted to keep her back in shape.

“I've had back problems since I was young,” says Russo. “Several years ago, I hurt my lower back while working. Then, I got tossed around in some waves while swimming in Florida and hurt it even more.”

Never the type to rely on medications, Russo toughed it out until the back pain became severe, with added leg pain and loss of foot control. “I couldn't do laundry or clean the house for months,” she says. “I was referred to physical therapy and I didn't think it would work. But I was wrong. It changed my life.”

Russo learned the importance of body mechanics and core strengthening from certified spine therapists at St. Anthony's Sports and Therapy Services.

“Simple moves that I thought would stop the pain made it worse,” she explains. “I leaned forward to try and reduce the pain when I should have been sitting with my spine straight. I really had to be re-educated and unlearn my bad habits, so that I could learn to move and lift things the right way.”

Russo was taught exercises to do on the floor and on a stability ball to strengthen her back and abdominal muscles. Therapists also worked one-to-one with her, to make sure she knew the right way to reach or lift objects, while keeping her back supported. “My therapist even did some of the exercises with me,” Russo laughs .“She made it fun.”

“There was so much I didn't know about body mechanics,” Russo adds. “I think there are millions of back injuries reported each year and many of them could have been prevented if people were aware of the right way to move. Now that I know what to do, the key is to keep up with the exercises and keep my back strong.

“I honestly think I avoided surgery because I was referred for physical therapy.”

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For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.

Working as trusted partners, the physicians and employees of St. Anthony's Health System will deliver care distinguished by its demonstrated quality and personalized service. We will be visibly engaged in improving the health and well­ being of the communities we serve in South County and beyond. We will stand together, proud to set the standard for independent community health systems.