Is your swing suffering from body pain or limited range of motion?

Every day I see patients that question why their body hurts the way it does. Each one of them has their ideas or conspiracies as to WHY this is the case. Usually, it involves some sort of past injury like a herniated disc, they slept wrong three weeks ago, or just lost flexibility over the years. Often, their main complaint is that it limits their ability to golf, either with the frequency of play or ability level.

I typically ask the question, “what are you doing to make it better?” A classic response is some stretch combination they do before they play. As they begin to describe these stretches, I often find myself scratching my head, discreetly of course… It is apparent that there is a severe lack of education and awareness with the average golfer when it comes to how to prep your body to golf and how to avoid injuries.

To address and alleviate your aches and pains, you need to know what the root cause is. I said CAUSING the pain, not where you feel the pain. When golfers come to see me with lower back pain, rarely is it the case that the lower back causes the pain. A vast majority of the time, you feel the pain because you are compensating in that area. You compensate because you lack in another area of your body. Take the golfer with back pain; they will typically have a rotational limitation in the hips, mid-back, or even the shoulders that forces them to move in their lower back in a way that it is not meant to do. This will cause lower back pain. However, until you improve the hip, mid-back, or shoulder limitation, you will never cure the lower back pain.

It can become tough to know exactly what will make YOU better. This is why I do what I do. I assess in-depth my patient’s abilities from a movement perspective and can give them precisely what they need to improve. I think of it as a “sniper” effect. You could do ten different exercises or stretches, and maybe 2 of them will work (shotgun approach) or learn precisely what your body can and cannot do with the help of a professional. Knowing what is working and focusing on those areas will speed recovery, improve range of motion, and improve your game.

Below are three exercises you can do at home to address the most common limitations I see, mid-back mobility and hip mobility limitations. These exercises are safe to do and will start providing immediate benefits to most golfers. However, it will certainly not get you to reach your potential. If you are interested in improving your rotational power, flexibility, strength, and decreasing your pain, you need to get a detailed assessment and learn exactly what you need to improve.

To watch more videos, visit our YouTube. If you’re experiencing lower back pain or would like help with your swing, we offer free injury assessments at our valley-wide locations. Request an appointment today or give us a call at 480.289.5502.

By Michael Basten, PT, DPT
President/CEO of Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy

“Good Enough” Means You Won’t Spend Enough Time to Fully Rehabilitate Your Injury

When it comes to physical mobility, are you prepared to settle for a good enough solution? That may work when you are making small decisions, like picking which size band-aid, but when it is your mobility that is on the line you need to have a full recovery focus. This is an extreme example, but the fact remains: if you settle for good enough, you will never do everything you want to do.

When it comes to your physical health and pain-free mobility, full injury recovery should be the target. It is easy to be drawn to the first solution that provides more comfort and functionality than you have today—even if it only offers a marginal improvement. We call this solution good enough. True, this solution will provide basic functionality, but it can also cause doubt and certainly will not help you achieve the best result. When having a full recovery focus you shouldn’t feel:

  • Worried about your recovery
  • Overwhelmed
  • Frustrated
  • Skeptical
  • Stressed (physical, financial, emotional, or mental)

Seeking full recovery is a journey with no shortcuts and no finish line. A journey that will lead to amazing and fulfilling results. At Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy our therapists embrace the journey. We understand that good enough is a dangerous stopping point… to aim for good enough is to end up incredibly mediocre… also keep in mind that good enough is only good enough for so long.

What is a Full Recovery Focus™?

A Foothills therapist will take you, your pain, and your full recovery seriously. We don’t believe a good enough recovery is good enough. In fact, no one deserves just a good enough recovery, no matter what their situation may be, our goal is to do everything we can to help you get your full, healthy life back. Our Full Recovery Focus™ difference is evident from your very first visit. Your enthusiastic and committed therapist takes you, your pain, and your situation seriously as you discuss what full recovery looks like. Together you will map out a hands-on customized plan to get you there. Your therapist will work to prevent unnecessary diagnostics in your recovery that can increase out of pocket costs and impact your long-term well-being. Our therapists can work with your doctor to explore pre-surgery, post-surgery, and no-surgery options for your full recovery.

Pre-Surgery, Post-surgery & No surgery

We know a full recovery starts before your surgery even happens. That’s why we’re with you from the beginning to the end. You can book an appointment without needing a referral from your doctor, and we can work with your doctors to develop a pre-surgery and a post-surgery plan. If it is possible, we will help you avoid surgery altogether. Our goal is always your full recovery.

Locally Trusted & Convenient

No one likes being in pain longer than they have to. With dozens of locations in Phoenix, you can get in to see your therapist quickly. You will never wait longer than 48 hours after booking your appointment. That’s why we’re the physical therapy organization local Arizonans have trusted for over 20 years. We have helped more than 500,000 patients get out of pain and back to doing the things they love. Your recovery sessions will be planned out so that you move through your recovery as soon as possible and get back to feeling like yourself and enjoying your life again.  And you won’t need to worry about insurance. We accept most major insurance carriers, including competitive cash pay options.

Get rid of crippling pain and enjoy full rehabilitation from your injury. 

We don’t give up on our patients once their recovery reaches “acceptable,” whatever that might mean. We make every effort to steer our patients away from a good enough recovery and guide them on their journey to full recovery.

Schedule an appointment today.

Knee injuries are quite common among athletes and active adults and one of the leading issues I deal with daily in the clinic. When years of wear and tear take a toll on your knees, you need to turn to strategies to relieve pain. Whether a sharp pain or dull ache, knee pain is a common complaint of nearly two-thirds of active adults. Exercising can strengthen your muscles and protect your knees without exposing them to pain, because your knees require the right balance of flexibility, stability, and care to stay healthy.

Licensed physical therapist, Matt Midkiff, director of our Mesa-Gilbert clinic, is an expert in all things knee pain, specializing in ACL repair and reconstruction. He has created the following videos to address and relieve knee pain.

Here are some additional tips to avoid future knee damage and pain during exercise and everyday activities:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight causes considerable strain on your knees. One extra pound of body weight puts an extra five pounds of force on your knee joints. Additionally, if you don’t strengthen the other muscles around your knee, it can cause instability and extra pressure. To prevent these types of problems, eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and focus on strengthening your quadriceps, hamstrings, and core muscles.
  • Don’t ignore abnormal pain: A little knee pain is usually nothing to be concerned about and can typically be cured with some rest and recovery. But if the pain lingers or gets worse, don’t ignore it. This could indicate a more severe problem, and you may start overcompensating in other areas (your back, thighs, feet, etc.), which could lead to other injuries. Instead of ignoring the pain or hoping it goes away, see a doctor or physical therapist to diagnose the problem and get a treatment plan correctly.
  • Let your muscles rest to prevent overuse: Disregarding muscle soreness can be just as dangerous as ignoring the pain. Soreness is a sign that your muscles are growing and rebuilding. After a challenging workout or activity, give yourself a chance to recover for a day or two before exercising again. Stretching also helps muscles heal faster, so be sure to take a few extra minutes before or after your workout to warm up or cool down.
  • Get a physical therapist’s or trainer’s help with strengthening and agility: ACL tears (the ligament on the outside of your knee) are among the most common knee injuries due to your knees’ natural instability. Physical therapists and neuromuscular trainers can teach you how to improve your strength, agility, and performance to avoid ACL tears and other knee injuries. If you’ve already experienced a knee injury, seeing a physical therapist can help you recover quicker, regain strength, and return to regular activity as soon as possible.

It’s easy to take our knees for granted, but having an injury can be debilitating, frustrating, and painful. Becoming aware of the dangers and learning better habits now can help you be mindful and avoid problems later. For more advice on how to avoid injuries or to get more information on knee pain treatment in Phoenix, schedule your appointment with Matt Foothills Sports Rehab Physical Therapy.

Lower back pain is the most common golf-related injury. This may be something that occurs with each swing, some soreness following your round, or something that is limiting you from playing as much as you like. Typically, lower back pain gets worse without a correct plan to fix it. On average, a golfer with lower back pain may take a week or two off to rest and let the pain subside. While this may be a good temporary solution, the cause for the back pain is still likely present, making it probable that you will experience this again. But why is your back in so much pain?

Believe it or not, the lower back is not typically the cause of your pain, just the source of the pain. Our lower back can be thought of as “the good guy gone bad.” This area tends to get overworked because other parts of your body are not doing their job. For example, our bodies are designed to rotate more through the thoracic spine (mid back) and the hips as far as the golf swing is concerned. Therefore, if the mid back or hips are not rotating well, then the lower back will try to rotate more. This is a movement our back is not designed to perform and over time will cause injuries.  Many golfers that suffer from lower back pain have limitations in the ability to rotate in the mid back and the hips.  When treating this ailment, it’s best to assess the hips and mid-back first and treat that before the lower back itself. If you are suffering from lower back pain, here are a couple of exercises that you can do to improve the mobility of the mid back and hips.

T-Spine Rotation Open Book:

  • Lay on right side, hips and knees bent 90 degrees. Rotate your left shoulder toward the ground as you reach back with your left arm. Your arm should follow your body. Do not extend your arm past your body. Make sure you do not let your knees come apart or off the ground.


    • Stand close to a wall, toes straight ahead. Raise one knee up and across your body so that your pelvis rotates around the stationary leg. Try to turn your belt buck without allowing your chest and shoulders to rotate. Do 8-10 reps each side.

To watch more videos, visit our YouTube. If you’re experiencing lower back pain, or would like help with your swing, we offer free injury assessments at our valleywide locations. Request an appointment today or give us a call at 480.289.5502.

Phoenix is known to have some of the best weather for winter golfing. That’s why we host the Waste Management tour every year. Have you asked yourself what it takes to hit the ball like the pros? Or what can you do to improve your golf game?

Being a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute-Medical Level I) certified trainer, we can help improve your game. TPI does not believe in one perfect swing, however an infinite number of swing styles.

The most important aspect of a golf swing is having a healthy and efficient body movement.

Limited rotation of the lower body, poor ankle mobility, poor trunk strength and/or limited shoulder mobility can all lead to an inefficient swing which then increase your risk for injury. Mobility and stability are not only important to improve your health and daily function, but also allow you to be efficient during your golf game.

Here are some important stats for amateur golfers out there:

  • 64.3% lose their posture during their golf swing which can lead to lower back pain.
  • 38.5% have a reverse spine angle which leads to back pain.
  • 31.4% of players slide during their golf swing.
  • 35.6% have a “chicken wing” during their golf swing.

Now, how do us amateurs compare to the pros?

  • 75.8% of pros have a controlled and smooth movement of the pelvis during a tilt test compared to 28% of amateurs.
  • 81.1% of pros have controlled pelvic rotation compared to 58% of amateurs.
  • 82.4% of pros can perform a forward toe touch test compared to 57%.

These movement impairments can lead to everything from upper and lower back pain, shoulder pain, hip and knee pain in addition to a poor golf game.

We may never be able to play on the PGA Tour but we can dominate the weekends by utilizing proper technique.

We can help you by performing a movement screen, teach you proper body mechanics, proper muscle recruitment and develop a quality strengthening/mobility program for you to maximize efficiency and a healthy swing to improve your golf game. Make an appointment today at our Tempe clinic!

Now let’s get out there, enjoy the weather and make some birdies!

Source: Titleist Performance Institute. 4033 Avenida de la Plata, Oceanside, CA 92056

Running a marathon is an amazing achievement for any level of runner. Many people embark on this journey to one day cross that finish line, but not everyone will get there. An injury mid-training is a common occurrence that will impede your ability to compete in a marathon. Injuries can be frustrating and sometimes life altering depending on the severity of it. Following key tips throughout your training can be the difference between crossing the finish line and coming up short.

Preventing an injury has many advantages and benefits; it will be incredibly rewarding in the end. Here are a few injury prevention tips to follow during your training:

Warm-Ups and Cool Downs
It is crucial to properly warm up before your run and cool down following your run. This helps aid your body in preparing for the task in front of you and for recovering afterwards. If you don’t warm up, you risk some serious muscle and ligament strains. A solid 5-minute warm up can do your body wonders. Cooling down is also very important. If you stop too fast while your heart is working overtime, you could get sick or even faint. Also, stretching after running will reduce the buildup of lactic acid which aids in recovery time.

Purchasing the Correct Shoes
Purchasing the correct running shoe will also help with injury prevention for marathon runners. Your shoe size should be one size bigger from your normal shoe size. This is due to your foot swelling while you run. Many shoe stores offer a gait analysis program to help fit you into the proper style fit for your foot and running needs.

Proper nutrition is very important to maintain throughout your training. Eating well and plenty of food helps your body absorb the proper nutrients and vitamins it needs to keep up with your training volume. Failure to incorporate proper nutrition will leave you susceptible to fatigue, poor performance, stress fractures and low bone density which can lead to injury.

Exercises and Stretches
Pre-running exercises such as dynamic stretching, thera-band work, leg swings and hip openers help turn your “muscles on” and prepare them for the run ahead of you. These exercises can also help to prevent muscle strains.

Strength Training
Keep your body in top physical running peak with added strength training. This helps to improve form and eliminates muscle imbalances. It also helps brace your body and joints for impact with each stride and step. Avoiding over-training is key in injury prevention.

Training Program
Following a training program or hiring a running coach can help you find the proper mileage pace and overall help to regulate your training regime. If you’re looking for a place to start, Hal Higdon offers many programs online, from beginner to advanced runners. A training program will keep you on track to cross the finish line.

Cross Training
Cross training is also vital in training for a marathon. Biking or swimming helps you maintain your cardiovascular fitness while strengthening other muscle groups involved in running. If you don’t have access to weights for strength training, cross training can compensate for that.

These injury prevention tips are meant to help prepare your body for running a marathon. Unfortunately, we cannot prevent every injury. If you do encounter an injury throughout your training, the physical therapists at Foothills Sports Medicine are ready and willing to get you back on your feet and back on that training road. With locations all over the valley, there is one near you!

There is a lot of talk about a newer treatment being utilized in strengthening and in rehab settings called Blood Flow Restriction (BFR). Essentially, BFR is taking a device such as a cuff or wrap and placing it around a limb to occlude partial blood blow to the affected area. When placing the cuff around the limb, blood flow is restricted by limiting arterial flow and venous return. By restricting the blood flow, higher levels of metabolic stress is created. Both metabolic stress and mechanical tension are associated with increased muscle growth. Because BFR can create this metabolic stress, exercises can be performed with low-load resistance training and achieve the same if not better results than traditional strength training.

For many patients, performing high intensity workouts is not an option.

Significant atrophy of muscle or injury can prevent people from loading joints and muscles without pain or risk of re-injury. Traditionally, patients coming into post-operative physical therapy are limited and unable to strengthen muscles for several weeks during the initial healing phase. BFR allows the physical therapist to strengthen a limb or joint without the risk of injury. BFR also has systemic effects which means with the use of BFR, a patient can achieve global gains in strength which can be important for patients who are deconditioned in more than one area. Another benefit of BFR is its ability to accelerate bone healing. Bone will adapt to the load which is placed on it. The external forces the BFR creates can help improve bone density and its ability to regenerate after injury when used correctly.

Rest assured blood flow restriction is safe when used properly.

Initially, many patients are a little skeptical of the safety of BFR. Every patient in our clinic is assessed for their appropriate level of restriction. Limb occlusion pressure is taken using a specialized doppler which allows the physical therapist to determine exactly when full blood flow occlusion is been attained and treatment is determined thereafter. BFR also does not cause blood clots. In fact, many case studies conclude that BFR can produce the release of anti-coagulating hormones when the cuff is released. BFR is not recommended for patients with uncontrolled blood pressure. However, if blood pressure is controlled, BFR has been shown to cause less stress on the cardiovascular system compared to high intensity training and weight lifting.

BFR can be used in a variety of ways and adapted to patients’ tolerance to improve outcomes in therapy as well as accelerate the healing progress. So who can benefit most from BFR? It is safe to use on most patients. BFR can be used on elderly, post-operative patients, athletes, patients with co-morbidities and most people who want to see faster, more effective results in strengthening. It is recommended to use blood flow restrictions under the guidance of a practitioner as exact limb occlusion pressure will be assessed with each individual patient. A detailed exercise programs will also be designed for the patient to ensure the most effective outcomes.

If you are coming out of surgery and/or looking to increase muscle growth due to atrophy and think BFR is right for you, schedule your free Rapid Recovery® Injury Assessment and our physical therapists can determine the right cause of action for you.

Did you know that boxing is used in physical therapy clinics all over the world to assist with movement deficits and conditions? Patients can benefit from this style of therapeutic activity by challenging their endurance, dynamic balance, ability to judge distances, and build hand-eye coordination, all while improving conditioning and having a good time!

Studies have found the effectiveness of boxing training with Parkinson’s patients and how it assisted with their overall condition. We now use boxing training at our clinics and have seen great results. Various individuals can benefit from training after orthopedic surgeries attempting to get back into work, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, post-concussion syndrome and many more.

When working with individuals with Parkinson’s, safety is the number one concern. We make sure they have a good understanding of their condition, proper mechanics, balance, and we slowly add in boxing training. Once all safety precautions are met, this training can help challenge them, and gain confidence in being able to regain strength and mobility.

Parkinson’s, as well as multiple sclerosis patients, benefit from boxing by using various patterns and rhythms to establish movement patterns and challenge balance while moving and focusing on punching. And post-concussion syndrome patients can challenge their vestibular system by creating different patterns and being able to hit the pads with their visual cues. Boxing is a great tool that can be exciting for patients to partake in to assist with their condition and build their self-confidence. Certainly, seeing patients’ smiles on their faces is the biggest reward!

Boxing is an incredible workout and therapy tool for many reasons. It challenges one’s footwork and balance by requiring patients to punch and move at the same time. The biggest advantage of incorporating boxing into physical therapy is that it keeps patients entertained and excited for their appointment. Patients report how much enjoyment they are having and can see improvements in their mobility and balance through their everyday life.

So, if you believe boxing would be a good form of therapy or are interested in learning what other sports-related physical therapy we provide, swing by a Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy clinic for a free assessment.

Soccer players, in particular, are susceptible to lower body injuries and often require physical therapy for their ankle and knee injury treatments.

Due to the nature of the game, soccer players are at risk for a different scope of sports injuries. A seemingly minor hit early in the season can knock any player out of the line-up for the rest of the year.

This is something Phoenix Rising fans know all too well. For many, the concern over the safety of their favorite player is just as important as the final score (if not more).

As the 2019 season kicks off, players are preparing to take to the field in the safest way possible.

Both professional and minor league soccer players are at high risk for lower body injuries like these:

  1. Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains can happen in a multitude of ways. Switching directions while running, turning on the spot, impact (kicking a ball), tripping over another player, and getting kicked are all common causes.

When the RICE method isn’t enough, players seek physical therapy for their ankle. A licensed physical therapist works with the player to strengthen and heal the injury through regular sessions.

  1. ACL Tears

The anterior cruciate ligament(ACL) is a ligament that provides stability to the knee joint.

While an ACL tear is much different than a sprain, the injuries occur in the same manner. It’s easy to tell the injuries apart. ACL tears are often accompanied by pop felt in the knee. (Ouch!)

Surgery is required for a tear to properly heal. The recovery period for an ACL tear can last two to six months — however, it may take nine months for you to return to your pre-injury condition.

  1. Cartilage Damage

Aside from ACL tears and sprains, there is another reason why knee injury treatments are common for soccer players: cartilage wears down over time.

Eventually, joints become stiff and painful. Of course, when you move differently because of pain, you stand a greater chance of injury. Physical therapy and continuous monitoring can reduce the pain associated.

  1. Stress Fractures

Shin splints and Jones fractures (where the bones running along the small toe is injured) are the most common stress fractures.

The stress placed on the skeletal structure through repeated impacts (running, kicking, crashing into other players) can lead to chronic pain. Most of these injuries are treated with therapy, but, in certain cases, surgery is required for the break to fully heal.

  1. Pulled Muscles

All of the injuries listed above are painful and take weeks, if not months, to heal. But just because the pain from pulled muscles eases within a few hours, it’s not an injury to shrug off.

If a player is experiencing repetitive pulled muscle pain, there may be an underlying issue at hand.

A licensed physical therapist would be able to access the problem and come up with a treatment plan that could prevent future, serious damage.

Soccer is a high-impact sport, but that doesn’t mean players should throw in the towel. Safety precautions such as proper running shoes, hydration, and preparation can reduce the likelihood of needing emergency knee injury treatment or surgery.

Has a soccer injury put you in need of physical therapy for your ankle? Schedule an appointment at one of our Valley-wide locations. We’re ready to get you back on the field and show you how to avoid any future missteps.

Spring is right around the corner and the weather is finally getting back into the 70s and sunny, so it’s time to lace up those running shoes! As someone who crazily decided to do a half marathon as a new year’s resolution (I know, I am one of those), I had to get on a structured running plan.

I feel that a half-marathon is the perfect mileage, 13.1 miles, where you’ll feel accomplished but it’s not too taxing on the body and mind. Starting out I knew I needed enough time to properly adjust to the wear and tear and mileage so I planned for a half-marathon at the end of April and started my training at the end of January. Through my research, I found the best tips and training method for conquering your first half-marathon.

Step 1: Pick the right plan

When selecting a training plan, you want to make sure the program includes an adequate amount of rest and cross-training. This will supplement your running so you don’t overtax the muscles required for running and increase your chance for injury. Here is a sample of my training program but feel free to find one that better suits you and your schedule:

The strength training consisted of upper and lower body split training in a circuit fashion so my body got accustomed to training at higher heart rate ranges followed by stretching and joint mobility exercises. The cross-training days can vary to keeps things from getting too monotonous so I use a variety of modalities usually aiming for the least impactful on the knees such as bike, elliptical, and swimming but the stair climber is always an option. You’ll see as the weeks go on there is a gradual progression of mileage, duration of exercise, and an adequate amount of rest and cross-training.

Step 2: Gear up

Wearing appropriate running shoes is one of the most important aspects of training. Remember that everyone’s foot arches and gait are different so you have to find the best option for you. From my experience, going to a specialty running store to get properly fitted is the best option to find a shoe that fits your needs. Some stores can take a visual analysis of your gait and take a 3D image of your feet to identify the best shoe and arch support to get you through the training process and the race. You will also want to test your clothing such as leggings, socks, and headphones before your race day because you don’t want to run 13 miles with an itch, chaffing, or socks constantly falling down.

Step 3: Nutrition

I will be very broad with nutrition recommendation, but in general, you should prioritize carbohydrates in your diet when on the running plan. This will ensure your muscles have enough glycogen stored to carry you through your runs. Healthy carb sources like whole grains, oatmeal, and fruits can go a long way to keep you fueled up for your runs. Experiment throughout your training regimen to find out what works. Don’t wait until the big race to find out if a food or gel packet gives you stomach issues. In general, try to stay hydrated throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to consume about six to eight ounces of water before your run. Water should be adequate on runs up to an hour, anything longer you may want to supplement with a sports drink that contains carbohydrates and electrolytes.

These are some tips on how to get started in conquering your first half-marathon. Everybody is different be it age, body composition, and levels of fitness so it is always recommended to get check out with your physician prior to starting any new fitness regimen. If you have any further questions or have a nagging injury that is not going away despite having the right running shoes, reach out to your local Foothills Sports Medicine clinic for a free injury screen.