by Jamie Miller PT, DPT, CKTP

This topic seems to be the million-dollar question that many people, including myself, feel defeated with right out of the gate. In realizing this, I first had to change my mindset. Let’s not look at the quality of our holiday season based on what we can/can’t eat, but rather on who we can enjoy, what traditions can we keep, and what is it in the activities we do that bring us holiday cheer.

Here are a few tips to help us with the parties, the leftovers, and changing our mindset to a healthier holiday season:

  • Don’t miss meals. You will likely end up eating double at the party to satiate your hunger. To help, try eating something light before leaving for a party. A piece of fruit, some veggies, or a light sandwich, so that you don’t arrive hungrily and eat more than you intended.
  • If you go to a restaurant or have catered food at the company party, choose the healthiest dishes: veggies, grilled meat, or salad. Go light with sauces or dressings (get these on the side if possible, your diet will thank you later).
  • Dessert is also ok, in smaller portions! Fruit can also be a nice choice for a sweet end to the wonderful meal.
  • Some ideas for preparing at home for the holiday events & how to organize your refrigerator:
    • Stock your fridge with healthy foods. High-fiber veggies to fill you up, and lean protein (leftover turkey breast counts!) to keep you satisfied. Fruit is also good to have on hand if you are wanting something sweet without breaking the “bank” (diet).
    • Organize your fridge strategically. Put leftovers in the fridge towards the back and keep fruit and veggies in front. This way you’ll have to work to get the good stuff, and have easy access to the healthiest foods.
  • Put food away. Those holiday cookies might look festive on the countertop, but they’re more likely to tempt you if you can see them. The more accessible food is, the harder it is to resist, says Beth Vallen, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at Villanova University and environmental food cues researcher. Your best bet is to keep food in the cupboard or fridge below eye level, so you don’t see treats every time you walk by the kitchen or swing open the fridge door for a snack.
  • Start the day with something light, based on vegetables, chicken or fish, and non-greasy food.
  • Use smaller plates. When given a choice at a holiday event or at home, pick a small plate to avoid overeating. Occasionally it is okay to overindulge, but day in and day out, you will see the scale creep up and wonder why your diet is failing.
  • Last but not least and quite possibly most important: fit in some form of physical activity. Whether it’s a fast walk, going up/downstairs at home, or signing up for a holiday run with family and friends, it is important to keep moving! If you haven’t been, now is the time to GET YOUR MOVE BACK. Exercise will allow you to burn those extra calories which have been proven to improve mental health & wellness. This is especially important during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Research shows you only need to exercise 30-60 minutes, 3-5 times per week to experience these effects of exercise. I have found it incredibly helpful to “challenge” my friends, family, and co-workers to exercise. This keeps me accountable for my personal health/wellness. It also allows you and your loved ones to become healthier!

Change your MINDSET:

Divert your attention. Don’t let food be the star of the show. Instead, focus on your social activity and the people you’re sharing the experience with, whether it’s family members, colleagues or friends. Let the experience this year be what brings you joy & true holiday cheer.

Wishing you and your families a blessed, happy and healthy holiday season from our team at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy! For more tips, tricks and information don’t hesitate to contact a clinic near you.

As we age our balance will decline, and without maintaining a functional level of strength, flexibility, and balance you can become prone to an increased risk of injury like twisting an ankle, tripping or even a fall.

Balance is one of the fundamentals of a healthy, active body. Having a strong sense of balance and awareness to the elements around you can help you react swiftly and prevent injuries and accidents from happening. We are so lucky that Dr. Jonathan Seidberg from our Biltmore clinic specializes in all things balance.

We asked him about his favorite exercises to use with beginners to help improve balance. He recommended his top 3 exercises that you can do just about anywhere!

1.Single Leg Balance:

Balancing on one leg can help improve your strength, stability, and body awareness, all in one exercise. To perform it correctly, stand on a surface, bend one of your knees, and squeeze the buttock of your standing leg.

Be careful that your legs do not touch and try not to hold on to anything with your hands.

2. Ankle Sways:

There are three strategies for balance, and our ankle strategy is the first line of defense against falling. This is a great neuromuscular activation activity to improve your ankle strategy.

Stand with your feet together or with one foot in front of the other (tandem). Slowly, move your weight forward and backwards or side‐to‐side. Be careful not to bend at your hips and only move at your ankles.

3. Standing Hip Abduction:

This is a multifaceted activity that improves your balance and strengthens your gluteus medius, a vital hip muscle necessary for daily mobility.

Stand with your feet together, lift one leg out to the side without touching the ground, then return to your starting position.

Be careful not to lean your torso.

Scale up: You can make any of these exercises more challenging by placing a more pliable object underneath your feet.

Do you need help improving your balance? Schedule a free injury assessment (no referral necessary!) to see how we can help keep you healthy and active.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy provides an affordable, individualized, and professionally supervised program designed to build and maintain a functional level of strength, flexibility, and balance. Our highly trained staff is here to properly evaluate and quickly identify your balance concerns giving you the confidence to get you back to doing the things you love.

Jonathan Seidberg PT, DPT

Education – University of Arizona, A.T. Still University

Jonathan is a proud member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the Orthopedic and Sports Therapy Section.

When inflammation occurs in the body, especially in your joints it can cause irritation, wearing down of cartilage, and may even lead to arthritis. Chronic inflammation if left unchecked can have damaging consequences over the long term. But did you know that the foods you eat, the quality of sleep you get, and how much you exercise can all play a role in reducing inflammation? In order to be more dedicated to our wellness goals, we must feed our bodies with the proper nutrients, rest, and exercise in order to fight off the harmful effects inflammation can have on our bodies.

What is inflammation?

The immune system is our body’s main defense system again foreign invaders. It recognizes these invaders and battles to keep all our systems as close to 100% as it can. This is done using the inflammatory process as a defense mechanism. But, just like any fighting soldier needs recovery from the constant attack, so does the immune system. It needs a break from inflammation. Otherwise, it loses the ability to resist and build back immunity.

Chronic (long-lasting) inflammation can rear its ugly head in the form of symptoms that can be all too familiar to many of us: unexplained lingering body pain, sleep disturbances, constant fatigue, weight gain, frequent sickness, and gastrointestinal issues which all can lead to an increase in negative thoughts and feelings diminishing our mental health and leading to depression and/or anxiety.

How to fight against inflammation.

What we nourish our body with has an effect on the inflammation in our bodies. So, what you eat is a good place to start in preventing and/or resetting that chronic inflammation. A good tool to use is called the dietary inflammatory index, or DII. It is an evidence-based index developed by researchers who have tested over 1,900 foods and their components by tracking markers on cells (our building blocks) in the body and overall effect on systemic inflammation.

You can start by going all in and following a strict elimination diet which basically allows you to eat only anti-inflammatory foods for 3+ weeks. Then, slowly adding in food groups that contain inflammatory properties in moderation to analyze the effects you feel.

Anti-inflammatory foods.

Anti-inflammatory foods include: vitamin C such as citrus fruits, strawberries, colored peppers, and potatoes; omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, albacore tuna, and lake trout; flavonols such as apples, berries, onions, kale broccoli; beta-carotene found in orange vegetables; flavones such as eggplants and tomatoes; and isoflavones which are found in soy. There can be some controversy over specific anti-inflammatory foods. Just make sure you listen to how your body feels and responds!

Foods to stay away from.

Inflammatory foods that should be avoided or eaten in moderation include: sugar and high fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fat such as fried foods, margarine, processed baked goods; refined carbohydrates such as any processed food that includes added sugar and flour, bread, pasta, candy; processed meat such as hot dogs, sausage, bacon; and excessive alcohol which is no more than 1-2 standard drinks per day.

It’s more than just anti-inflammatory foods.

Although your dietary intake is a very important factor in reducing inflammation, you can’t rely on this to do all the work. Help that soldier out and add to your army with regular exercise and stress management from a mental aspect. Find something you enjoy such as yoga with meditation, reading outside in fresh air and Vitamin D, or listening to a positive podcast while at the gym.

Just like that and your habits are changing from the inside to out. You’re on your way to meeting your goals with hopefully some extra benefits of better sleep, more energy, and a body feeling 10 years younger!

If your inflammation is slowing you down, contact your nearest Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy to get your move back!

Pain is one of the few common experiences we can all relate to. Everyone has experienced pain at one time or another in their lives. No one enjoys being in pain, but it is a necessary part of helping keep us alive. To gain a deeper understanding of pain we will look at the various parts of the brain that control pain.

Pain is defined as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience that is associated with actual or potential tissue damage” which was developed by the International Association for the Study of Pain. Pain is an output from the brain when the brain thinks we are threatened. Tissues (muscles, joints, ligaments, and nerves) are just one input for the brain. The brain receives millions of inputs every second before it determines the output (pain or no pain) and processes them at an incredibly rapid rate, millions per second.

These inputs are messages sent to the spinal cord and brain, letting the brain know about temperature (so you know whether to wear a tank top or winter coat), blood flow (is it time to get up and move?), stress levels (hormones including adrenaline and cortisol), movement (your eyes are moving as you read this), and the immune system (such as when you have the flu). If the brain determines that something is a threat it can make you feel pain even in the absence of tissue damage. Processing pain is much more complicated than just a tissue being damaged, so let’s take a deeper look.

Scientists once thought that when tissues are damaged a special “pain center” in our brain lights up telling us we have pain and when tissues are healed this area turns off. We now know through brain scans that when we experience pain, nine areas of our brain light up, we call this our neuromatrix. Everyone experiences pain differently, my pain is different from your pain and your pain is different than your neighbor’s pain but we all have the same nine areas light up, they just light up differently. So what are the nine areas, what are they responsible for, and most importantly why does the neuromatrix matter?

  1. Premotor/Motor Cortex – organizes and prepares us for movement
  2. Cingulate Cortex – concentration and focus
  3. Prefrontal Cortex – problem solving and memory
  4. Amygdala – fear and addiction
  5. Sensory Cortex – sensory discrimination
  6. Hypothalamus/Thalamus – response to stress and motivation
  7. Cerebellum – movement and cognition
  8. Hippocampus – memory and fear conditioning
  9. Spinal Cord – first stop to process information from peripheral inputs (tissues) before sending the info up to the brain

Understanding that there are several areas of the brain that control pain is important. We now know that these nine areas do not just light up together when we experience pain but also communicate with each other when we experience other events such as memories and coordinating movement. This helps explain why when some people experience pain for prolonged periods they report difficulty concentrating at work, feel more stress, have a harder time completing physical activities, or can experience pain without tissue damage.

The good news: we can change the way that our brains light up through treatment interventions used in physical therapy. Education, manual therapy, trigger point dry needling, physical activity, and modalities are all ways that physical therapists can modify brain inputs to help people experience less pain and increase our ability to perform functional activities.

If you’re in pain, don’t wait any longer! Click here to make an appointment at your nearest clinic.

In Health,

Ted Carter, PT, DPT, OCS, TPS, CSCS, Cert. DN

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy


Have you ever been stuck thinking who do I call? Where should I go? What’s the best option to get my injury assessed? Am I going to the doctor just to get referred somewhere else? These are all valid questions that you deserve to know today!

Get PT 1st is the movement that you do not have to take time off work to go to a doctor, get assessed, get a referral elsewhere, take more time off work, schedule another appointment and then arrive at your physical therapy appointment. That is too many steps that are time and money consuming. We want you to get the care you need the fastest and most efficient way possible. This starts with direct access.

What is Direct Access?

Direct access allows a patient to directly go to a physical therapist without the prescription or referral of a physician.

Benefits of Direct Access?

  • Saves Money
  • Saves Time
  • Gets Better Faster

Did you Know?

Physical therapy is not just for sports and orthopedics but can also treat patients in need of help with disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease. Dizziness, headaches, stroke rehab, cardiac rehab, fractures are just a few of the many services a physical therapist can help you to get better too.

Physical therapists are also trained to screen for serious medical conditions including and are not limited to cancer. You will be in good hands and if any red flags do pop up at your appointment then your physical therapist will get you the care you need!

Physical therapists can do things that your doctor may not be capable of:

  • Assess your injury risk with a movement screen to better assess a patient’s weaknesses
  • Find the workout/plan that best fits your needs
  • Speed up your recovery faster
  • Correct your alignment and postural issues

Why not take the step to Get PT 1st? Take action with direct access, save money, and see improvement! Schedule an appointment with Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy Clinic near you! We want to help you Get Your Move Back!

As temperatures begin to rise in Phoenix, Arizona, don’t be shy about getting outdoors and enjoying everything this beautiful place has to offer! There are an array of activities such as hiking, mountain biking, running, brisk walks at night, canoeing, fishing or playing your favorite sport.  Don’t let the heat beat you. The days are longer, so take advantage of the early morning sunrise and the late sunsets.

Making memories with your family and friends is what life is all about. Don’t let the fear of injury stop you from taking advantage of the outdoors. The human body is a remarkable thing and allows you to live life to the fullest through outdoor fun and activities. As a physical therapist, I have spent the last seven years studying and understanding the human body and its physical properties. Your muscles and joints need to be active in order to maintain a healthy and pain-free lifestyle. Proper training, strengthening and neuromuscular education will provide a foundation for you to be safe in the outdoors and enjoy the beautiful warm weather.

Some of my favorite places to visit include Lake Pleasant, the waterfalls of Fossil Creek, the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon and Blue Ridge Reservoir. Arizona has many beautiful landscape to offer. Be safe and be smart by taking plenty of drinking water and food. Plan your trip appropriately for your needs. The heat can be a dangerous thing. Proper preparation can allow you to enjoy Arizona despite the extreme heat warnings. Most importantly, stay hydrated!

My job as a physical therapist is to help you continue doing what you love!

Are your aches and pains slowing you down? Find a Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy clinic near you and our physical therapists will help get your move back!


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.

It is officially 2019 and if there is one thing you have probably noticed, it is how prevalent technology is in our lives.

In a recent survey, it was found that most Americans spend nearly half of their waking hours looking at a screen. And, 79 percent of the respondents of one survey felt that their screen time had increased in the last 5 years.

Our physical therapy clinic is often looking for ways to help our patients improve their health. With screen time becoming more prevalent, how does this usage affect our health?

  • Sleep
    There have been several studies that have revealed that those who have increased phone and computer usage often have more sleep disturbances. Research has shown that the light emitted from your device can affect melatonin production and trick your brain into thinking it is not time for sleep.
  • Vision
    Staring at the computer for prolonged periods of time has been known to cause strained and dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches. It was found that nearsightedness in the U.S. has increased from 25% to 41.6%in the last 30 years, which may be an effect of too much screen time and not enough sunlight.
  • Weight Gain
    It was found that those who spend more time watching TV have a higher chance of being overweight and less active.
  • Overall Health
    Typically, when watching TV, using a computer, or using our phones, we are sitting. Prolonged sitting has been known to lead to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. It should also be noted that we will typically find ourselves in a hunched over posture when using devices for extended periods of time, which can lead to neck or back pain.
  • Learning
    It was found that kids and young adults who spend large amounts of time in front of the screens are more likely to develop attention disorders.
  • Social Skills
    With screen time becoming more prevalent in children, it has been found that children are spending more time watching videos or exploring the web rather than creating experiences for themselves, which causes them to be less confident. Technology also seems to be affecting social skills in some children because of the lack of face-to-face communication.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested children under 2 years of age should avoid all screen time and to limit screen time to only 1 hour for children aged 2-5.

So how can we have healthy habits when we are constantly surrounded by screens?

  • Phone-Free Zones
    Set some time aside each day without your phone. Make a rule that phones are not allowed at the dinner table or in the bedroom in order to increase family time at meals and improve sleep quality.
  • 20-20-20 Rule
    For every 20 minutes of looking at a screen, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away. This rule can help to decrease the effects of prolonged screen time on your eyes.
  • Fun Away From the Screen
    Play a board game, put together a puzzle, read a book, or go outside! There is so much that can be done that does not involve sitting behind your computer or phone. Not only can this improve your physical health, but it can also improve your mental health as well!
  • Monitor Your Posture
    If you need to look at your phone or computer, make sure you monitoring your posture. The optimal viewing angle is around 15 degrees. This will help to decrease potential neck and back pain. A physical therapist can help you to correct your posture.

With technology and screens becoming more prevalent, it is important that we acknowledge how they may be affecting our daily life and take the necessary steps to improve our health habits. If pain is keeping you indoors and stuck on your phone or television; we can help. Feel free to submit an online request for an appointment with a physical therapist.



The New Year is here which means that many of us are making resolutions to become the best we can be in 2019. Whether your resolution relates to your mental or physical health, our physical therapy clinic is here to help you stick to it so you can achieve your goals in 2019.

  1. Make SMART Goals

SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. When making your resolution this year, using this acronym will help you to achieve your goal.

Instead of committing to “exercise more in 2019,” make your resolution SMART: “In 2019, I will walk/run 4 times a week for 30 minutes.”

S: The resolution is specific and to the point.

M: With a specific goal in mind, it will be easy to measure if you are on track. You can clearly see if you are walking 30 minutes 4 times a week or not.

A: Make sure this resolution is doable. Assess your current health and increase/decrease the exercise as needed.

R: Evaluate how this commitment fits in with your work and family schedule. You want to achieve the goal, but you don’t want to neglect other important areas of your life.

T: You are committing to this goal for the year of 2019

  1. Establish Accountability

Many resolutions fail even before they begin due to a lack of accountability. A SMART goal is the first step, but having someone to share the journey with is one of the best ways to be sure you stick with your plan.

Find someone you can trust and who will ask you tough questions about your progress. One possibility would be to find someone with the same resolution and work together to accomplish it during 2019. Bringing someone alongside you as you work toward your goal will provide support, encouragement, and motivation to stick with it.

  1. Persevere

A mental or physical change in your life will require endurance and intentionality — it won’t be effortless.

There will likely to be rough patches during your resolution that will make you want to quit. Make your resolution personal, and have weekly, if not daily reminders for why you are trying to achieve your resolution for 2019.

If your resolution has a deeply driven purpose, you will be more likely to stick with it. Be willing to dig deep and fight through temptation with the help of accountability and making your resolution SMART.

While you’re working towards your goal, an injury with pain may, unfortunately, happen. Our physical therapy clinic can help you get back on track. Start by requesting an appointment at a location near you.

If you’re like our physical therapy team, you probably have some upcoming travel this month.

When you’re sleeping in a new bed, traveling in a plane full of passengers and their accompanying germs, and eating less-than-healthy meals you likely return from your travel exhausted and maybe even a little under the weather.

Ready to travel a different way? Follow our list of tips and tricks to stay healthy on vacation.


Flying is known to be dehydrating, so prepare your body by drinking a few liters of water before you get to the airport.

Bring a water bottle with you to save money — everything at the airport is significantly more expensive, even bottles of water — and help the environment by choosing a reusable water bottle over a one-time use plastic.

Empty water bottles can go through security and you can find water bottle filling stations at the Phoenix Sky Harbor by many of the restrooms.

Eat Smart

When hunger strikes, come prepared with some healthy snack options. Not only will you save money, but your body will thank you for the nourishment.


Pack easy-to-transport options like bananas, tangerines, snap peas, and raw nuts. You can also pack some protein bars to fight hunger, look for options that have less than 10 grams of sugar and recognizable ingredients.


If you want a, select an option with vegetables and lean protein.

At the Phoenix Sky Harbor some healthy options include:

  • Shredded kale and quinoa salad at La Grande Orange
  • Grilled Salmon at Chelsea’s Kitchen
  • Ethan’s Vegetarian Tacos at Chelsea’s Kitchen

If you’re at an airport with only national chains, find menu options that are low in sugar, grilled over fried, and include vegetables. This article can help.


Flying can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. Keep yourself distracted by downloading your favorite Netflix show or a new movie to your phone. If you’re a reader, pack a book by your favorite author.

Meditating while flying is one of our favorite things to do to calm nerves. Plus, you’ll deplane feeling rested and with a settled mind.

If you’re new to meditating or prefer guided meditation — especially to drown out the noise of other passengers — try the phone app, Calm. Sign up for a free trial and download a few sessions before your flight. You can also use the Calm meditation timer offline; it plays some relaxing sounds — choose from noises like bubbling springs to crackling fire.

Protect Your Back

Airplane seats are designed with a concaved back to better fit multiple people side by side. Bring a scarf to roll up behind the arch of your back to give yourself some lumbar support.

While you’re on the flight, make sure you’re stretching your spine every hour or so. Sit up straight and twist your top torso to the right and left to release tension. For some extra stretches for before, during, and after a flight, look at this webpage.

Stay Active

When you’re traveling, you’re often indulging in high-calorie food and drinks — after all, you’re on vacation. To combat those extra calories, find ways to stay active. Walking is a great way to incorporate activity while exploring a new city.

If you pack an easily-compactable resistance band, there are many exercises you can do from the comfort of your hotel room.

Our final tip? If you typically have a hard time falling asleep in a different bed, bring some melatonin to help you fall asleep. The full night’s rest coupled with a meditation session on the plane ride home will have you come back from your travels recharged.

Traveling can be stressful and exhausting, but if you come prepared you can keep your body healthy and return from vacation actually rested. If traveling is especially difficult for you due to pain, physical therapy can help. Visit one of our Valley-wide offices for an assessment.