The Healer: Holistic Physical Therapist Rob Mahon

Rob Mahon makes pain vanish—but hardly anybody knows about him. Is he Philly’s best-kept secret?

Musculoskeletal therapist Rob Mahon describes his treatments as “physical therapy on steroids.” Photograph by Andre Rucker

The nameplate on the door in the Medical Arts Building was unassuming: “Rob Mahon.” It didn’t say “miracle worker,” “swami,” or any of the other voodoo words I’ve heard used to describe Mahon, a holistic physical therapist. His small office was unassuming, too: a simple training table in the middle of a tidy carpeted room, with a floor lamp to make it homey. The room felt more office space than witch doctor.

I was at Mahon’s office with my friend Abby, who hasn’t been able to run without pain for more than a year. During a soccer game, she felt something rip in her right hip. No doctor could pinpoint a diagnosis.

“I’m all word-of-mouth,” Mahon says, but his cell number is in impressive hands. In 15 years, he’s worked on Olympians (runner Ryan Hall), Hollywood heavyweights (director M. Night Shyamalan), business tycoons (Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts) and scores of others. Mahon puts his success rate at over 95 percent.

His goal is to return the body to proper balance by untangling blockages in the fibrous tissue known as fascia, which holds muscles and tendons in place. Unlike traditional physical therapists and doctors, who look only at the pain site, Mahon surveys the whole picture: “Ninety-nine percent of the time, the cause of the problem is going to be somewhere else in the body.”

An appointment typically lasts two hours, and most clients see him only once. (Mahon’s $250 treatments aren’t covered by insurance.) He sends them home with a list of stretches and strengthening exercises—but no medications, supplements or referrals for surgery.

Within minutes of working on Abby, Mahon found the problem: a faulty hip flexor that caused other muscles to overcompensate, tighten, and deliver an ache down her right side. He stretched her legs and feet, massaged her lower back, and got her hip flexor working again.

The next morning, Abby completed her first run in months—completely pain-free.

“I don’t like the word ‘miraculous,’ because it mystifies the science of what’s going on,” says Mahon. “I’m sort of out there, as far as physical therapy goes, but I see real results. And I keep people off the surgeon’s table.”

>> You can reach Rob through his website here.