Important aspects of rehabilitation from an injury are invisible and too often neglected.
One example is the additional oxygen we need during exercise; it is invisible and virtually undetectable until we don’t have enough of it. In a similar way, some practitioners can miss the importance of the psychological aspects of rehabilitation.

There is a good chance that physical pain or the inability to perform your favorite activities will be motivation for you to call a physical therapy clinic. The vast majority of us avoid physical pain and do not seek out help. However, in the special case of physical therapy the absolute avoidance of pain at all costs can slow and even stall recovery. It is the role of a highly skilled therapist to gently help patients to understand that tolerable amounts of pain are sometimes necessary for full recovery.

As a therapist, we need to be mindful of patients’ physical limitations and the individual differences in pain tolerance. It is equally important that therapists work together with their patients to set rehab goals and pain threshold limits that are in the patient’s long-term best interest.

A good balance between rehab goals and pain limits can only be reached through a shared understanding between the patient and practitioner.
This is built on the idea that the patient feels understood as a whole human being and not just the injury. Another psychological aspect of rehab involves the negative feelings and the frustration associated with the longing to return to an activity.

Research into the psychology of rehabilitation has exploded over the last ten years, and has led to a greater understanding about the role the mind plays in a full recovery. The sudden or gradual inability to participate in a physical activity can be devastating. The physical and mental recovery from injury can be influenced by frustration, self-talk (positive and negative), and adherence to rehabilitation.

A model presented by Hamson-Utley et. Al. (2008) emphasizes that coping skills, mental imagery, positive self-talk, and goal setting are most influential in promoting positive behavioral and emotional outcomes. Again, a skilled practitioner plays a key role in partnering with patients to ensure that these important issues are addressed leading to the best possible result of patient care.

A shared understanding between patients and therapists is vital.
It involves the acknowledgment of the physiological aspects of rehab such as self-doubt, feelings of helplessness, and fear of movement. A skilled therapist, like those at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, open the door for a healing collaboration with their patients and give patients a sense of ownership over their own recovery process. This can only be achieved when there is an integration between both physical and psychological aspects of patient care.

Find a Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy clinic near you to receive a free Rapid Recovery ® Injury Assessment from our physical therapists. Get your move back one step at a time and find a rehabilitation patient care plan specialized for you here!

Hamson-Utley, J.J., Martin, S., & Walters, J. (2008). Athletic trainers’ and physical therapists’ perceptions of the effectiveness of psychological skills within sport injury rehabilitation programs. Journal of Athletic Training, 43(3), 258-264.

At times, braces are prescribed by physicians to support a specific joint. They are usually recommended for injury recovery or post-surgery to assist with healing, along with specific instructions for proper use. It is important to note that the goal is gradual weaning off of the brace and a returning to normal function.

However, in this blog I want to focus on the braces people purchase over the counter and use for joint pain. They include hand, wrist, elbow, knee, ankle, and postural bracing for your back. These braces can be both costly and very inexpensive. If the only goal is temporary pain relief, these assistive devices can help in that regard. But, they can also cause adverse effects on the injured body part and make the problem worse with time. For this reason, the permanent use of a brace is a poor solution when compared to the long-term success and permanence of physical therapy. Additionally, braces can be bulky, very hot, and uncomfortable to wear in the Arizona summer heat.

Braces can be somewhat effective for temporary use during injury recovery. However, because they are doing the work of both small and large muscles, prolonged use is problematic. This is because the brace becomes the main support system for the injured joint instead of your own muscles. While the layperson tends to focus on the joint itself, the surrounding muscles are very important in joint function and play a significant role in the overall function of the skeletal system. When muscles become weak (as they can do when braces are used long-term), decreased joint stabilization occurs. This is due to the brace taking over the job for muscles and could eventually result in a reduction of functional movement, increased joint tightness, and, in some cases, a worsening pain cycle.

From a therapeutic perspective, your therapist doesn’t want you to become reliant on a brace in order to complete everyday tasks or to enjoy your favorite hobbies and weekend events. In most cases, a specific strengthening and mobility protocol can help reduce pain while eliminating the reliance on a brace during injury recovery. Break the brace-reliance pain cycle and make an appointment today to speak with a physical therapist about how you can begin the process of performing at your best without a brace.

At Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, we believe good communication is an essential factor in successful patient outcomes. The process patients go through at our physical therapy clinics can be compared to catching up with a friend over a latte or a warm cup of joe at a neighborhood coffee shop. We strive to listen to patients and their issues, offer feasible solutions with easy-to-wrap-your-head around explanations, and continually remain empathetic to frustrations, pain, and the emotional toil injuries can invoke.

The patient experience begins with a call to one of our physical therapy clinics where scheduling and the exchange of initial information sets the tone for the rest of the recovery process. Our front office staff are courteous, helpful in answering any questions, and speedy so you can quickly get off of the phone and back to your busy life.

During the first visit, your physical therapist begins the appointment by actively listening about your injury and lifestyle. Important details related to work, hobbies, and even physical demands at home are vital when making treatment decisions that reflect your best interest. Our therapists understand that sometimes you know your body best and we’re always slow to jump to conclusions. Instead, we believe listening can help us discover the best solution.

After this patient-therapist conversation and with input from the referring physician, a recovery plan is made. The plan for care is explained to you, and, with the help of the entire Foothills Sports Medicine team and your hard work, the plan will be successfully executed.

The Foothills team consists of many dedicated professionals who all play an important part in every patient’s recovery. A physical therapy technician is assigned to each patient to assist in the exercise regimen. As treatment progresses, patients may also work with physical therapy assistants (PTAs) and athletic trainers (ATs) who work in close communication with the physical therapist (PT) who performed the initial evaluation. All of the practitioners, regardless of their title or specialization, keep informed on patient progress and are fully committed to the overall recovery plan set into motion during the initial visit.

Our hope is that every patient has a smooth and satisfying experience at our physical therapy clinics and is discharged knowing our staff had their best interest at heart. From the first conversation with the front office to the final visit, our team is committed to excellence, which includes quality communication and response to patient feedback. When you’re ready to start the process, we’ll be waiting, like a good friend who orders your favorite coffee and grabs a table at the bustling coffee shop.

The AZ Physical Therapy experts at our Foothills Sports Medicine clinics are dedicated to helping you fully recover from pain and injury, so you can get back to doing the activities you enjoy. Our therapists create individualized plans for each patient to ensure you are getting the treatment that is ideal for your body. They also offer a free assessment of your physical therapy needs, which can be scheduled online here. For more information and advice about AZ physical therapy, check out our blog!

Delicia Johnson is an Arizona native, PT assistant, and Certified Kinesio Tape Practitioner. She is here today to explain what Kinesio Tape is, how it works, and to dispel commonly held myths.

Kinesio Taping is a therapeutic technique that utilizes a uniquely designed elastic tape to enhance function in many different tissues and body systems. Since becoming a certified Kinesio Tape Practitioner (CKTP), I have realized that most patients are not familiar with this method. Patients often struggle to understand how putting a special kind of tape on their muscles will be beneficial to recovery – so here are the facts and myths about this revolutionary new method of taping.


Myth: All athletic tapes are uncomfortable and perform the same function.

Fact: Different tapes have different properties and were created for varying purposes.           

Most people are familiar with the “white” athletic tape and its use in McConnell taping methods. Traditional McConnell taping is used to restrict mobility for the purpose of injury prevention, or to allow the wearer to exercise or play a sport in spite of an injury. As a result, athletic tape can feel very restrictive and be irritating to the skin. Traditional tapes are meant to be worn for no more than a few hours at a time and are designed for a single use during a specific activity. White tape has a poor adhesive quality when wet and is not meant to be applied directly to the skin.

Kinesio Tape, on the other hand, has a much different purpose and a dramatically different design and feel. It is constructed of 100% cotton, and it is elastic, hypoallergenic, and latex-free. Its thickness and weight is designed to be similar to that of natural skin, which allows for full functional movement and far less restriction than traditional tapes. It can also be worn for up to 5 consecutive days and is water resistant.


Myth: Kinesio Tape is only for athletes

Fact: Kinesio Tape can be beneficial to all types of patients.

While Kinesio Tape is regularly seen on professional athletes, it can help a wide variety of patients. In fact, 85% of Kinesio Tape techniques were developed for non-athletic uses. I have personally utilized Kinesio Taping methods to assist my patients with postural correction, muscle facilitation and inhibition, joint support, and to help reduce pain and inflammation. I’ve witnessed positive results for patients of all ages and at varying activity levels. Kinesio Taping is appropriate for all stages of treatment. It can be used for acute injuries, chronic issues, and even to prevent re-injury.


Myth: Anyone can apply Kinesio Tape

Fact: Only certified professionals should apply it

Many people believe that anyone can apply Kinesio Tape, because it seems like a simple technique. In reality, correct application is complicated and requires a more in-depth knowledge of human physiology. While you can find self-help videos on the internet claiming it is easy to apply, this is most often not the case, and the tape itself is ineffective if applied incorrectly. Many Kinesio Taping techniques require specific patient movements during application, or they require a certain percentage of tension to be applied to the tape in a specific direction. This makes it very challenging to apply without medical training and knowledge of the underlying anatomy. Prior to taping, a professional diagnosis is essential. Patients who might benefit from Kinesio Taping are recommended to first have a PT evaluation to assess the problem accurately.


Myth: Kinesio Tape is a cure-all

Fact: Kinesio Tape is one step in the recovery process

While I am a strong proponent of Kinesio Tape, it is important to address the idea that it will solve all of your physical therapy problems. Kinesio Tape is classified by our clinic as a modality, meaning it is a temporary assistive method meant to help patients through the recovery process. When applied correctly, it is a valuable tool that can be used as a stepping stone towards recovery. However, it should be just one part of a holistic treatment plan.

If you think Kinesio Tape might be right for you, feel free to contact your local Foothills Sports Medicine AZ physical therapy clinic for more information!


Delicia Johnson, PTA, from our Arrowhead clinic is here to give her personal words on how Foothills is teaching her to be cutting-edge AZ sports medicine expert:

Foothills Rehab is a leader in physical therapy, sports medicine and training physical therapists. As a physical therapy assistant currently practicing and learning at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, I can say I’m learning far beyond the industry “standard”.

When asked, “How do you continue to formulate new ideas to treat your patients?” The answer is simple. By continuing my education, keeping up with current research and learning from my peers, I am constantly growing as a physical therapy professional. My goal is to not only help patients feel better and improve their quality of life as quickly as possible, but to give personalized care.

Most recently, I completed two kinesio taping courses. Kinesio taping is also known as elastic therapeutic tape. It is a newer practice of taping around tendons and muscles to help avoid further athletic injury. Additionally, I have taken various manual technique and 3D Body Reaction courses to improve my knowledge of the body and how it responds to different stimuli.

All of us at Foothills are constantly striving to further our educations. We never stop learning and improving ourselves as professionals. We have clinicians at Foothills who are certified and knowledgeable in a wide variety of techniques. I am able to learn everything from Trigger Point Dry Needling, to ASTYM (soft tissue therapy), vertigo treatments and creative exercise techniques.

The staff at Foothills Rehab strives to learn more and become better at what we do, setting us apart from other clinics. We are taught that people are the heart of what we do. I am a firm believer in treating the person, not just an injury.

Patients come to me from a variety of backgrounds and different stages in life. Rarely do their goals for recovery match what some clinics would call “standard treatment”. At Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, we are committed to making sure each patient gets the personalized treatment and attention they deserve. I go out of my way to learn about my patient’s individual goals, note their concerns, form a relationship and give my patients confidence in their ability to get well.

Recently, I had a patient tell me, “Thank you for treating me like a person and not just a copay”. I was sad hearing this because I realized that Foothills is often the exception, not the rule when it comes to superior treatment. The patient had transferred from another clinic that hadn’t cared for them as a person.

I chose physical therapy as a career because I take great pride in improving every patient’s quality of life and I am honored to get the chance to be a partner in their recovery. My deep level of concern and extra effort for my patients are always reinforced by the Foothills Rehab standards of care—it’s why I chose to work here.

Our physical therapy experts at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, like Delicia, know how to help you recover from an injury. If you have questions about an injury or are interested in kinesio taping, make an appointment today for your physical therapy consultation! To learn more about AZ sports medicine and what our certified professionals can do for you, check out the Foothills blog!