Often you hear stories of athletes looking to improve their core strength in order to reduce injury, boost metabolism, improve balance, and increase flexibility. While you could spend hours in the gym tackling all these goals did you know there is one sure-fire exercise that addresses all of them? Yes, Planking. Planks are one of the most common core exercises and for good reason! You can do planks anywhere, with no equipment, at any fitness level.

While it seems like a basic exercise, nailing down your plank form can be challenging. We asked licensed physical therapist and clinic director of our Glendale clinic, Andrew Songer for some advice on how to hit the perfect plank every time.

Here are his simple tips:

You want your hips in line with your back, core tight, head down, and arms apart.https://foothillsrehab.com/amazing-things-w…n-when-you-plank/

Avoid keeping your arms close, arched or slumped back, head up or bending at the knee.

How do you make sure everything stays in line? One tip is to “tuck your tail” or “pull your buckle up”. These phrases remind you to pull your ab muscles together and tuck your hips under.

For a little help, make sure you do not forget your glutes! Planks are a full-body exercise and engaged glutes will help you keep everything nice and straight.

How to scale:

We get it; planks are hard! If you are having trouble holding a plank on your toes for 15-30 seconds, try going down to your knees, instead. There is no shame in scaling! Form over difficulty, every time.

Little known fact: To make planks harder, keep your arms apart. When you clasp your hands together, you are recruiting your chest, so this substitution takes away from focusing solely on your core.

The best way to stay healthy starts with proper form and prehab to prevent injuries before they happen.

Schedule with Andrew today. No referral necessary.

Want to Be the Best? It Starts Here.

If you are looking for 1:1 or group sports performance training take a look at Foothills Acceleration and Sport Training (FAST). FAST is here to bring your game to the next level, regardless of sport, age, or ability. Driven by results, our Strength and Conditioning coaches work to help everyone, from youth to professional athletes, achieve their goals, both in and out of season. From HIIT to strength training, our individual and concentrated group fitness classes will challenge you—no matter your fitness level.

Find a location near you.

Andrew Songer PT, DPT, Cert. DN

Education – Northern Arizona University

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 17, and while the tried and true tradition of grilling and relaxing at home is a great way to celebrate, our Arizona sports medicine practice recommends keeping the whole family healthy by getting active. Spend the day doing a fun family activity and after you can reward yourself with your hamburger if you really want it.

Visit the Park for a Competitive Game
In Phoenix, there are many parks with tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts. Grab the family and head to a local spot to play, and don’t forget to keep score.

Get on the Water
An hour or two on a kayak or paddleboard on Tempe Town Lake offers a great arm work out and an easy way to create Father’s Day memories. Other nearby options include Saguaro Lake, Canyon Lake, and Lower Salt River.

Nerf Gun Fight
Make your backyard or inside your home a battle zone. Duke it out with a Nerf gun fight. After a little while, simply shooting at each other can get old. To keep things interesting by incorporating some fun games. Just make sure you place fragile items in a safe spot before you fire the first shot.

Pool Time
For a fun way to stay cool and be active, hit the pool. Swimming is a great cardio option that is easy on the joints. Keep the whole family entertained and moving by playing some kid-friendly pool games.

If you want to up the ante, consider a family trip to nearby Big Surf Waterpark. The family can hang ten as you work your core to balance on a surfboard at their wave pool.

Rock Climbing
For a fun body-weight exercise that increases your agility and allows you to flex your mental muscles, take a trip to an indoor rock climbing gym. We’re fortunate to have many great options in the Valley: Phoenix Rock Gym in Tempe, Black Rock Bouldering Gym in Phoenix, Focus Climbing Center in Mesa, and AZ on the Rocks in Scottsdale are just some of the options. Gravity Extreme Zone in Chandler also has trampolines, virtual reality, a rope course, and more.

Dust off your bikes and either go to Papago Park or meander around your neighborhood. If you have a spot to grab ice cream nearby, let that be the destination and treat yourself to an icy sweet before heading back home.

Get Out in Nature
Living in Phoenix, we have no shortage of hiking trails. Of course, in the summer, it’s recommended to go hiking in the early morning hours or night to avoid the heat.

Nearby family-friendly trails include Hieroglyphic Trail in the Superstition Wilderness, Dreamy Draw Loop Trail, and North Mountain National Trail — one of the paths is paved if you have little ones that require a stroller — at Phoenix Mountain Preserve, and Gateway Loop Trail at McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Hole in One
Last, but not least, if dad is a golf fan, the summer pricing is here. Take advantage of the low prices at our world-class courses. Just make sure you’re drinking plenty of water.

Of course, make sure you’re considering dad and what he would like best. We hope these ideas help your family have a fun, energy-filled day. If dad is having to stay away from the activities he loves because of pain, make an appointment for him with one of our Arizona sports medicine locations.

It’s that time of year again, the sun is bright, the smell of hotdogs wafts in the air, and baseball is in full swing. It’s estimated that 6 million children ages 6-17 participate in organized youth baseball leagues across the country. This is a great time to get the family together and cheer on your favorite athlete! Playing sports can be fun, and the health benefits gained from playing are great, but playing can carry a risk of potential injury if the athlete is not properly prepared.

The most common injuries found in youth baseball players are to their shoulders and elbows1, with pitchers receiving the greatest number of injuries. The combination of a pitcher’s excessive repetitive shoulder movement, muscle tightness, rapid bone growth, and under-developed neuromuscular movement patterns put an adolescent athlete at risk of upper extremity injury2. Each of these factors alone, or combined with improper throwing, can place extreme forces along the shoulder and elbow.

Most young athletes will complain of shoulder pain earlier in the season, and elbow pain as the season progresses3. The overwhelming cause that leads to shoulder and elbow injury is overuse. Pitching too much in a short time-span with insufficient rest periods, has been shown to lead to injury. Current recommendations from the American Sports Medicine Institute for youth pitchers can be found here: http://www.asmi.org/research.php?page=research&section=positionStatement

If your little athlete reports that they are feeling shoulder and/or elbow pain, it should not be ignored. Ignoring these early warnings can have a detrimental effect, which may lead to serious injury. By seeking out a licensed physical therapist at Foothills Sports Medicine before the injury develops they will be able to identify possible causes contributing to the athlete’s pain. A physical therapist will develop a plan with you to get your athlete back to their peak playing performance. This plan may include rest, comprehensive strength training and throwing program, or laying out return-to-play criteria for their safe return to the field.

At Foothills Sports Medicine, we offer a FREE Rapid Recovery Injury Assessment. Before the pain progresses, we recommend an assessment so we assess the injury and explain how physical therapy helps eliminate shoulder and elbow pain. This will help identify possible deficiencies, and prevent future injuries. Knowledge of common risk factors, impairments, and effective interventions can prevent or minimize the impact of these injuries.


  1. Yang, Jingzhen, Barton J. Mann, Joseph H. Guettler, Jeffrey R. Dugas, James J. Irrgang, Glenn S. Fleisig, and John P. Albright. “Risk-Prone Pitching Activities and Injuries in Youth Baseball.” The American Journal of Sports Medicine 42.6 (2014): 1456-463. Print.
  2. Shanley, Ellen, PT, OCS, CSCS, and Chuck Thigpen, PT, ATC. “Throwing injuries in the adolescent athlete.” International Journal of sports and Physical Therapy 8.5 (2013): 630-40. Web
  3. Shanley, Ellen, Mitchell J. Rauh, Lori A. Michener, and Todd S. Ellenbecker. “Incidence of Injuries in High School Softball and Baseball Players.” Journal of Athletic Training 46.6 (2011): 648-54. Web
  4. Ray, Tracy R. “Youth Baseball Injuries: Recognition, Treatment, and Prevention.” American College of Sports Medicine (2010): 294-98. Print.