Most people have heard of medical students completing residency programs, but what is a physical therapy residency?

The American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) defines a physical therapy residency as, “a post-professional program that one can participate in after graduation…with a focus on advancing knowledge or skills within a specific specialty area of practice…and prepare individuals for the specialty certification exam.”

Residencies are not required for physical therapists after obtaining her or his doctorate, but help improve skills and clinical reasoning in specialty areas, such as neurology, sports, and orthopedics.

Foothills Sports Medicine has an orthopedic residency program to help residents implement evidence-informed practice and skills in the assessment and treatment of orthopedic conditions. The program runs annually, starting in September, with one-year and two-year tracks. During the residency program, you are provided didactic education, skills sessions, and mentoring from expert clinicians throughout Phoenix and Tucson.

I have gone through the program and I now serve as a lead mentor at our Surprise location. My favorite aspect of the residency is the diversity that comes with mentoring. In other residency programs, a resident will have one or two mentors that they are with for the entire residency. At Foothills Sports Medicine, a resident has a lead mentor at her or his home clinic but will also receive mentorship with expert clinicians at our other clinics every two months. This immerses the residents in a wide range of experiences that grow their skill set and clinical reasoning.

For physical therapists and student physical therapists, completing a residency in the specialty area you are passionate about can accelerate your journey to becoming a sought after expert clinician. Our physical therapy residency program prepares a resident to sit for the Orthopedic Specialist Examination and become an Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS), which less than 6% of physical therapists are. This distinction allows your clients to see the dedication you have to provide optimal care and towards continuing education.

For patients: find a physical therapist who you have a great rapport with and who is passionate about providing you with the best care to help you achieve your goals. Your physical therapist should want to treat you with the same level of care they want for their family, friends, and themselves. Foothills Sports Medicine prides itself on choosing passionate individuals that are here for you. Feel free to make an online request for an appointment at a clinic near you.

For more information on our physical therapy residency, please visit this webpage.

Does your low back ever bother you when you wake up? Do you wake up at night and notice your hands have “fallen asleep”? Is it difficult for you to find a comfortable sleeping position? It is common for patients to tell me they are having difficulty sleeping or they’re waking up with discomfort, such as low back, neck, or shoulder pain.

There are cases where a patient may have a sleep or wakefulness disorder, as an estimated 50-70 million adults in the United States have such conditions. However, sleeping posture can also affect how one sleeps at night. After educating patients on the best sleeping positions, they typically come back and tell me they had a fantastic night of sleep.

For all sleeping positions, it is important to keep the spine in a neutral position (i.e. avoiding excessive arching or flattening). As individual body types vary, more or less support may be needed in certain areas of the body. Experiment with the amount of support you use and see what feels best to you. With the following tips, you can set yourself up for sound sleep:

  • Back Sleepers
    Use one to three pillows underneath your thighs to prevent arching of the low back and use one pillow under your head to keep your head in line with your spine. In some cases, use pillows underneath the arms to keep the arms in a neutral position.
  • Side Sleepers
    Use a firm pillow between your knees to put the hips and spine in a neutral position. You may also try having your top leg slightly forward or backward to better position the low back. Use a pillow underneath your head to keep it in line with your spine. Position your bottom arm slightly forward, so you are lying more on the shoulder blade. Hugging a pillow at night can help put the shoulder and back in a favorable position. Avoid sleeping directly on the outside of the shoulder, as this can cause discomfort.
  • Stomach Sleepers
    This is a position I typically tell patients to avoid if possible. While lying on your stomach, the low back can become arched and the head is turned to the side, which can cause discomfort. I also tell patients to avoid sleeping with the arms overhead, which can reduce blood flow and cause the arms to “fall asleep”. If you must lie on your stomach, use pillows under your head, stomach, and legs to put the spine in a neutral position. Use a towel roll or position your pillow on your forehead to keep the head in a neutral position, while maintaining proper position for breathing.

The CDC also recommends the following for general good sleep habits:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime
  • Avoid nicotine

If you are still experiencing aches and pains, contact us to visit a local Foothills clinic  to have a licensed physical therapist help determine the cause of your discomfort and recommend the best sleeping position for you.