New facility helps Whatcom residents continue to enjoy their favorite activities

New sports institute offers preventive, recovery treatment

Prime Sports Institute in Bellingham, Wash., focuses on athletic injury prevention and recovery.
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Prime Sports Institute in Bellingham, Wash., focuses on athletic injury prevention and recovery.

For many people, nagging injuries are keeping them from participating in their favorite sports or outdoor activities. A new facility is hoping to change that with a different approach to recovery.

The Prime Sports Institute has steadily gained a base of elite and recreational athletes since opening last fall at 1704 N. State St., near Kona Bike Shop and Bellingham Fitness, said Kerry Gustafson, who co-owns Prime with Erica Quam.

One goal of the institute is to treat injuries and then get people back to enjoying a sport or exercise, she added.

Gustafson, who worked as a collegiate athletic trainer at Washington State University, said she wanted to bring an athletic trainer mentality and its technology into the institute. She started Prime Massage and Sports Medicine in Bellingham in 2012 before creating the institute in a 5,800-square-foot building that was a former printing shop.

The institute focuses on people who are injured playing sports and need help getting back to where they were before the injury. Examples include that nagging hamstring tightness, or that shoulder issue that prevents a dad from throwing a football with his child in the yard, she said.

“We want to be a place that bridges that gap between physical therapy and actually getting back into a sport,” Gustafson said, adding that she can’t recall another place that has more of an athletic-trainer approach.

The institute has three physical therapists to help people with their injuries but also has trainers to help prevent injuries as well. The facility also has a variety of equipment to help with recovery and injury prevention, including air compression sleeves, hot/cold tubs and a sauna. It has also expanded into other sports-related areas, including a mountain bike fitter, a yoga studio/conference area and coaches. They are also looking for a sports psychologist and a nutritionist.

Krissy Moehl, director of the Chuckanut 50K race and author of the book “Running Your First Ultra: Customizable Training Plans for Your First 50K to 100-mile Race,” uses the equipment at the institute to help her body recover from runs, but sometimes before runs as well.

“The air compression (massage) really helps the body,” Moehl said.

Quam, who was the head swim coach at Washington State University, now teaches other swim coaches and hosts yoga classes.

The institute has also been connecting with other local companies, including working with Superfeet on its consumer wellness program.

Sometimes health insurance can cover some of the services, but most of it is out-of-pocket or through a health savings accounts. The institute is open every day, and walk-ins are accepted. For further details, visit Prime’s website or call 360-922-3120.

Prime’s phone number was corrected June 3, 2019.

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.