The Joyful Anthology

Interview with Dr.Emily Kiberd of Urban Wellness Clinic



I met Dr. Kiberd in the Spring of 2015 while struggling with a nagging hamstring tear and sacral issues.  I was seeking treatment that could go deeper than the typical soft tissue work that wasn’t resolving my issues. I came across an inspiring story on Sarah Cummings, one of the most successful local runners here in New York and how Urban Wellness made a difference in her performance and helped her stay injury free. Once I read up on Urban Wellness’ s holistic approach, I was drawn.

My first visit with Dr. Kiberd led me to believe I was in the right place. She specializes in movement patterns, functional movement, muscle testing, gait analysis, scar work and breathing patterns – all among the more cutting edge evaluation practices. She focuses on an integrative way of looking at the body on a whole, where everything is connected. Dr.Clark is also on board with the same strategy to treating. Bethany treats with ART, massage movement drills and is so conscientious with her treatment. Personal trainer, Matt Semrick’s guidance with training specifically tailored to my anatomy, biomechanics, and running goals. I always leave feeling way better than when I came in. I feel more mobile, stronger and HAPPY.

The environment is a beautiful facility with great energy and a warm staff that greets you and makes you feel at home. I also love their synergistic approach to helping athletes perform at the top of their game and stay injury free. They gave me the tools to work with as a proprioceptive way to incorporate necessary warm ups and strength routines before and after my runs. I believe tuning in that way is essential as a holistic approach to enjoying running or whatever sport you love to do. I sat down with Dr. Kiberd to talk about her path to Urban Wellness and her inspiration behind her work:



Name: Dr.Emily Kiberd

Profession: Chiropractor at Urban Wellness Clinic

How many years in practice?
Since 2007, so coming on 10 years.

What was your prior occupation?

At 14 years old, I decided to be a chiropractor. I have never changed my mind. I dappled in outdoor summer gigs – bear management in Yellowstone National Park, a Park Ranger for Sequoia National Park, back country trail work in Glacier National park, and Trip Leader taking teenagers hiking in British Columbia. But I have always been fascinated with how the body compensates and moves.

What inspired you to your profession as a chiropractor/ movement specialist?

When I was 14, I sprained my ankle playing soccer. I limped off the field, and went to physical therapy to rehab the ankle. Months later, I started getting headaches, which my family chiropractor Dr Robert Radtke diagnosed was related to my ankle still being sprained. My ankle was unstable and sloppy and my neck was trying to find the stability while I walked. What a gift to see movement and help someone else heal their own body.

Where did you get your yoga certification?

Abhaya Yoga in Brooklyn, NY with Tara Glazier. She’ s a wonderfully skilled teacher with amazing sequencing, story telling, and drops you deep into the yoga practice.

Tell me about when you opened UWC?

I opened in 2009, so seven years. At first it was just me, doing everything, treating patients, scheduling, and calling insurance. It quickly grew and I hunted for the best people to join me. It started with hiring Bethany who’ s been a massage therapist for 20 years. (I know, I know, she doesn’ t look it a bit.) Then the behind-the-scenes staff took, which took a long time to find the right people. I went through 20 front desk staff until a patient saw my struggle and recommended Melissa. She is my right hand and always has a smile on her face when you walk through the door. Most recently I hired Matt the trainer. After working out with probably 50 different trainers, he was the first I walked away from without being injured. His ability to see movement and how to train energy leaks in the body is inspiring. He holds the space so well for all of our patients, unlike any other trainer I’ ve worked with.

Can you describe the philosophy of UWC in a few sentences?

Getting you back to what you love, faster. Matt’ s been playing with, “keeping you in the game ‘ til you die,” which I love but maybe a little rough around the edges.

What type of patients do you treat mostly?

Corporate warriors, those New Yorkers who work hard and play harder after sitting for 10 to 12 hours everyday. We have a huge running population since we are so close to Central Park and NYAC. We love our yogis and I treat a lot of friends in the NYC yoga community dealing with pain from hypermobility issues from overstretched hamstrings and joint capsules.

How is UWC considered a holistic approach to wellness?

We like to look at the body as a whole. Typical physical therapy can only treat the area the doctor has prescribed – for example just a knee or just the low back. But we like to look head to toe because everything is inter-related, what if that knee or low back pain is coming from an old sprained ankle or surgery in a different part of the body. We believe there are four pillars that shape one’ s health: movement, nutrition, sleep, and stress. We like to think of our four pillars as four wheels on a car – if one is off, you can’ t where you want to go. So we shape our treatments around more than just movement, but taking a look at what else is out of balance and what could slow down the natural healing of the body.

What advice can you give to those training for a marathon for the first time as a proactive regime?

In addition to what Sarah Cummings wrote on our blog: I would emphasize, pain is the body’ s last sign that something is wrong, so any discomfort get assessed.

Can you express the importance of strength training for runners/endurance athletes?

Runners, like every sport, have their compensation patterns from the repetition of a linear yet highly evolved movement. Runners are typically chest breathers with weak intrinsic core and weak glutes, overactive posterior chair ie backs of their legs, and overuse of their upper traps and big chin jutters. Runners love running because they can just put their shoes on and go out the door. Strength is so important to balance these compensations to prevent overuse, chewing up joints and leading to pain down the road. The last thing we want is someone not being able to do what they love, so strength training makes runners bulletproof to keep doing their sport for the long haul.

What are your personal hobbies/vacation spots./spiritual practice?

Vacation: Bali, we are building Villa Graceland for our Baby Elvis. Fire Island in the summer.
We love biking around on beach cruisers and the lack of cars. Jose Ignacio, Uruguay Playa Guiones, Costa Rica for yoga retreats Tulum to escape NYC brutal February winters. I love the beach so that is what tugs at the heartstrings.
Hobbies: Watching and immersing self with other inspiring people, like watching Chef’ s Table on Netflix. Listening to podcasts: Inside Quest Tony Robbins, Lewis Howes. Farmer’ s market on Sunday to show our baby the fresh local produce.
Kirtans with Krishna Das and Jai Uttal. Trying out new workouts in New York

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