Robert Forster, PT has been treating athletes in Santa Monica for over thirty-one years and his extensive work with recreational and elite athletes has set his clinic apart from the rest. His staff is experienced in solving difficult sports injuries and developing rehabilitation programs that are exercise based and makes you an active participant in your rehabilitation process.
FORSTER PHYSICAL THERAPY OFFERS:
- Physical Therapy programs specializing in sports injury, conditions of the spine, and post-surgical cases
- Voted "Best Place to go for a Sports Injury" by the readers of Competitor Magazine in 2002, 2004, and 2007
- Exercise based Physical Therapy programs utilizing the latest modalities and techniques
- Individualized AQUA THERAPY for a wide spectrum of orthopedic and medical diagnoses
- Thirty year history of practice in Santa Monica
- Voted "Best Place to go for a Sports Massage" by the readers of Competitor Magazine in 2002, 2004, 2007
- Professional staff including seven licensed Physical Therapists with over 100 years of combined experience
- Hours of operation: Monday through Friday 7:00am - 8:00pm and Saturday 8:00am - 12:00pm
- Free secure parking
About Forster Physical Therapy's Staff
He's been the science behind some of the greatest Olympic track and field athletes the U.S. has ever seen, but he doesn't boast.
He's treated some of the world's most famous athletes, such as Kobe Bryant and Pete Sampras, and still doesn't blow his own horn.
And he's raced some of the world's toughest endurance events, yet he remains modest.
But that doesn't stop others from bragging about the man behind Robert Forster Physical Therapy (www.forsterpt.com) and Phase IV (www.phase-iv.net).
Twenty four years ago, a fresh out of college Robert Forster arrived in Santa Monica, where the native New Yorker landed a job at Centinela Hospital in the physical therapy department. Now, 46, Forster lives within a half mile of his first Southern California home and has his own practice and performance training center.
"Bob seems to almost have a sixth sense for what his patients need," said Lisa Giardino, the office manager at Robert Forster Physical Therapy. "People really count on him and respect him. Being an athlete himself really helps, too."
Although Forster's career path has taken various side roads, his desire for treating the human body has remained true back to his days in high school.
The First Taste
Forster wrestled throughout high school and into college at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. But it was the high school experiences that provided his first taste of therapy and training.
"At the time getting training information was difficult," said Forster, who wrestled varsity all four years and has recently tried his hand in some masters meets. "Coaching wasn't too scientific. My dad and I ended up building a gym at my house because I was gone all the time lifting weights. Within a couple of years the whole wrestling team was at my house."
As a captain of his wrestling team as an upper classman, Forster assumed the responsibility of helping others train. He said he was drawn to the science - the physiology and kinesiology.
In college, Forster kept his grades up and got into physical therapy school early after just two years of undergraduate study.
"I got out of school in four years and was practicing right after my 22nd birthday," said Forster, who is married with a 9 year old son. "Since then, school has never ended. I'm always trying to improve my working knowledge."
Next Stop: Santa Monica
Forster's first job at Centinela Hospital focused on the hospital side of therapy. He enjoyed it but knew his passion lied in the athletic side. Forster was interested in a position at the Kerlan Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, one of the largest clinics in the country, but he took a job in Santa Monica in a physical medicine clinic to get some different experience, this time in soft tissue and joint protection, biomechanics, and ergonomics.
Kerlan Jobe soon came knocking, and Forster jumped at the opportunity. The job allowed him to take a broader look at the orthopedic experience, leading him to runners and endurance athletes who needed to balance flexibility, stability and strength.
Then in 1983, his life changed forever.
Forster met UCLA track coach Bob Kersee, as they were set to do a lecture together in the San Fernando Valley. Forster said Kersee convinced him that he was coaching a crop of young athletes that had a future of Olympic gold medals in sight.
Although he didn't know much about track and field, Forster went to UCLA and started hanging around the athletes and teaching them general stretching, strengthening and balancing exercises. Among those athletes were Evelyn Ashford, Valerie Brisco-Hooks, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Jackie Joyner Kersee and Gail Devers.
You could say Forster was in the right place at the right time. Forging a relationship with the top Olympians, Forster stayed by their side through four Olympics ('84, '88, '92, and '96) and a multitude of world championships.
"We were the first to bring our own physical therapist and massage therapist," he said. "We really supported athletes in their total efforts - nutrition, massage, recovery, physical therapy, everything. I think in the '88 Olympic we had 14 or 15 athletes, which was a major undertaking."
During his run with the Olympic group, Forster was establishing his own practice. Although much of his concentration was dedicated to the elite athletes, he began seeing more amateur endurance focused athletes, such as marathon runners and triathletes.
He had been treating quite a few endurance athletes since opening his center on Wilshire Boulevard in 1995, but it wasn't really until after Jackie Joyner Kersee retired in 1998 that Forster decided to focus primarily on serving local athletes with the same scientific approach.
"The endurance athlete became a primary focus," said Forster, who is a household name among local endurance athletes because of his sponsorship of events and clubs, such as Velo La Grange and LA Tri Club. "The truth is, I was taking some of the programs I developed and honed for the track and field athletes and using them for endurance athletes."
Forster's reputation grew, as did his athletic endeavors. Growing up as a wrestler, Forster understood the importance of running for fitness. But it wasn't until he was in physical therapy school that he really started running.
"I ran my first marathon before I moved out here," he said. "Then I ran the old Santa Monica Marathon and kept up with my training. Since I didn't know what I know now, I started getting some injuries. So I switched to biking and really never looked back."
Forster enjoyed the challenge of mountain bike racing and eventually worked his way up to extreme endurance riding. In 1998, he attempted La Ruta de Conquistadors in Costa Rica, a three day, 300 mile stage race. He did not finish, but the following year he returned and successfully crossed the finish line.
He followed La Ruta up with a larger venture - the TransAlp Challenge, an eight day stage race traversing the Austrian Alps and Italian Dolomites mountain ranges. Forster completed that race in 2000 and again in 2001.
He said competing in events like those keeps him healthy and on top of his training, but more so it's the experiences, which are a proving ground for the physiology he is trying to understand and develop, that allow him to relate to the athletes he treats.
"A lot of it is between the ears - all mental," he said. "I've been searching for the answer to why I can do this now. I was certainly fitter at age 25. And the answer is the knowledge. I know more, and I think I'm able to take pain more."
There's no question that Forster knows more. He prides himself in staying on top of the latest techniques.
"The thing about Bob is that he has a really deep knowledge of the science of training and nutrition and exercise physiology," said Jake Winebaum, 45, who has competed with Forster in the TransAlp Challenge and World's Toughest Mountain Bike Race. "He's also very funny and entertaining to be around. Many times on those long grueling rides, he has a way of providing comic relief. I get those benefits as a friend, but I also use his services. Whenever I get hurt, he heals me."
Forster is known for his work on the healing phase, but in 2002 he looked to build up what is known as the fourth phase.
"It became so frustrating to watch athletes come in, get rehab and go make the same mistakes again," said Forster, who recently returned from a week in France, where he rode various stages of the Tour de France the day before the actual race took the course. "We've always treated in four phases, and the fourth phase of rehab is going back to sports training with a scientific guidance. (Phase one is decreasing pain, phase two is controlling symptoms through rehab and phase three is increasing strength.) So we decided to open Phase IV to address the need in the community for scientific training and fitness training by physical therapists. The thing about Phase IV is that there is a real science, it's not guessing."
Science has always been Forster's driving force in his profession, as is education. He keeps up to date on all the latest information and provides free lectures at Phase IV on everything from nutrition, stretching and periodization training. Whether he's educating himself on new shoulder or ankle therapy or educating the endurance community, Forster is just looking out for his fellow athletes.
Written by Jason Johnson. Featured in LA S&F, September 2004.
Robert Forster, PT
Master Physical Therapist
Robert Forster P.T. has practiced Sports Physical Therapy in Santa Monica, CA, for 31 years. Robert has lectured throughout the States and Europe on Sports Rehabilitation and safety in exercise. He has worked with leaders in the Exercise Industry such as Jake “Body by Jake” Steinfeld and Kathy Smith. Robert has served on the California Governor’s Council of Physical Fitness Advisory Board.
Robert served as a private physical therapist at the 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics for Olympians Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence “Flo-Jo” Joyner, Alyson Felix and their teammates who have won a combined 32 Olympic Medals under his direct care. He also worked with tennis great Pete Sampras over the last 5 years of his career to help him come back from several injuries and achieve his unprecedented 7th Wimbledon Championship and 13th Grand Slam title. Robert has worked with basketball all-stars Kobe Bryant and Elton Brand and tennis phenom Maria Sharapova as well as M.M.A. champions including B.J. Penn.
Los Angeles Magazine featured Forster Physical Therapy as offering the “Best Physical Therapy in L.A”. Also Forster Physical Therapy has been voted “Best Place to go for a Sports Injury”, “Best Place for a Massage” and his Phase IV Scientific Health and Performance Center was voted “Best Gym/Triathlon Club” by readers of Competitor magazine.
Robert has published several articles in the scientific press and co-authored The Complete Water Power Workout Book published in 1993 by Random House. He has also written a regular column in Triathlete Magazine, appeared in several episodes of the popular Fit to Hit series on the Tennis Channel and recently created the Herbalife 24 Fit Exercise Video for the world’s leading weight loss company.
In July 2002 Bob founded Phase IV Scientific Health and Performance Center. Phase IV is a training Mecca for goal-oriented athletes. Utilizing techniques previously reserved for professional and elite athletes, Phase IV is an athletic think tank offering the same in-depth assessment and instruction to competitive amateur athletes.
Phase IV is a physical rehabilitation center, a personal training gym and a health and fitness laboratory all in one. Utilizing the hard earned experience that can only be gained from 31 years in the high stakes and results driven arena of elite athletics, Phase IV has thousands of success stories. Clientele ranges from student athletes to grandmothers with osteoporosis to age group competitive tri-athletes and Olympic and Professional Athletes.
Phase IV is staffed by Physical Therapists, Exercise Physiologists, Registered Dieticians, Psychologists, and Ph.D. Research Specialists from a multitude of backgrounds and disciplines. The staff has the skill set to evaluate and solve difficult physical, physiologic and psychological barriers to performance. Phase IV have also conducted research in conjunction with the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, The National Institute of Health and private label equipment manufacturers including Skechers.
Robert is active in the community sponsoring the Velo Club La Grange Bicycle Club and Los Angeles Triathlon Club as well as providing free treatment for patients of the Venice Family Clinic. He has also founded and coaches The Santa Monica Kids Wrestling Program to introduce this great sport to children in the community. He has personally completed the 6 of the toughest mountain-bike stage races in the world including La Ruta de Conquistadors in Costa Rica, the TransAlp Challenge, the B.C. Bike Race and the Brian Head 100.
Ron Berry, Director of Water Rehabilitation
Master Physical Therapist
Ron has been a Physical Therapist since graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from California State University, Long Beach in 1990. Prior to that, he attended U.C. Santa Cruz and worked as a massage therapist. He has worked with Robert Forster since 1993 treating a variety of diagnoses. Upon the opening of the new clinic in 1996 he helped develop the aqua therapy program. He has also worked on developing periodized training programs with athletes at Phase IV, the Scientific Training & Performance Center, since it’s inception in 2002. Since then he has returned to treating a variety of diagnoses out of the water, as well. Ron keeps active and fit through a variety of sports and hobbies. He is an active member of the physical therapy professional association, the APTA, and continues to enhance his skills through educational seminars.
Kent Moody, M.S., Director of Clinical Quality Assurance
Master Physical Therapist
Kent received his Master of Science degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California in 1977 and his B.S. in Health Education from the University of Oregon in 1975. Kent joined Robert Forster in October 2000 as a Staff Physical Therapist and Head of Clinical Quality Assurance after having worked at HealthSouth Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic since 1993. He has also worked at Southern California Center for Sports Medicine in Long Beach, S.C.O.R., Inc. at Cigna Healthplans in Los Angeles in cardiac rehabilitation, and at Daniel Freeman Hospital in cardiac rehabilitation. Kent specializes in shoulder, knee, and back injuries and surgeries and is extremely proficient in cervical, elbow, and foot/ankle injuries as well. With over 35 years as a Physical Therapist, his knowledge and expertise enables him to treat all patients with a very high level of success. Additionally, the area of ergonomics and its relation to prevention and treatment of injuries is a special interest. Kent has been an avid runner since 1967 and has participated in numerous 10k runs and half marathons. He is also involved in swimming, surfing, skiing, backpacking, and camping.
Scott Sonderman, DPT br>
Scott received his doctorate of physical therapy from Washington University - St. Louis in 2012. Prior to that, he earned a B.S. in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from the University of Missouri in 2009. Scott’s clinical experience includes inpatient and outpatient orthopedics, as well as neurological rehabilitation where he had the opportunity to treat a variety of clients ranging from high school to professional athletes, post surgical clients and a wide variety of joint problems. Scott is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association. He is a dedicated weightlifter participating in Powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting. He also participates in soccer, volleyball, basketball, running, and hiking.
Amy T. Tran, DPT
Amy received her Bachelors in Exercise & Sport Science from Oregon State University in 2007, and earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2011. As a former competitive water polo player, swimmer, and gymnast, she developed a strong interest in helping athletes overcome injuries and achieve functional goals. One of the highlights of Amy’s career was working with an American wheelchair rugby player with a spinal cord injury who was a gold medalist at the Paralympics; she was inspired to think outside the standard orthopedic box and effectively return him to competition. Amy currently treats various orthopedic and spinal conditions, over-use injuries, shoulder and knee pain, and has additional professional interests in treating Temporomandibular (TMJ) dysfunctions, brain injury, and vestibular impairments. For several years she has done research on pain management and in 2011 assisted in the research for current evidence and systematic reviews to create practice guidelines for the treatment of these topics. In her free time, you will find Amy dancing at the studio or surfing on the beach. She loves dance and has experience in performance and teaching.
Dear LAtri clubbers,
Training for my first Ironman (Louisville KY) I was plagued with injuries. So to make my training injury free for my next Ironman (Hainan Island, Haikou China) I had a structural exam and appraisal by Robert Forester (Phase IV). Robert (Bob) was very good at pointing out my muscle imbalances and potentials for injury. Bob prescribed a stretching and weight program that addressed my issues.
My major issues:
Rotator cuff, impingement syndrome, right shoulder
Left leg functionally longer than my right
Left leg weaker than the right
Freakishly weak left ankle.
Bob understands that I am training for an Ironman so he designed a program that fits in with my IM schedule so I don't have problems with my weight program being out of sync with my IM training i.e. having my weight program peaking when I should be tapering for a race
Since Bob knew about my issues, I had an exceptionally good bike fit (ERGO-POWER PLUS). Bob hooked me up to a computrainer that gave a picture of my pedal stroke. I was supposed to have a round circle but I had the classic dumb bell shape. Bob adjusted the position of my cleats and the height of my seat, for my leg length discrepancy he cut out a cork insole and placed it in my left shoe and I was able to improve my pedal stroke dramatically.
Bob doesn't sell bicycle parts but he has the uncanny ability to give you accurate specifications for any part he recommends.
I have been on Phase IV stretching and weight program for 5 months, my left leg and ankle are feeling much stronger and my right shoulder doesn't hurt when I swim. My bike has been adjusted to my imperfect biomechanics making my chronic injuries disappear. With 12 weeks until race day, my training has been injury free and much more enjoyable.
Dear Mr. Forster,
I greatly appreciate the help and consideration you and your crew gave me last year and early 2005. There is no doubt the help facilitated my whiplash recovery and being walking distance to you from my bus and home truly saved me. Claudia is awesome, Bill was so patient, Rich and al the other financial and admin folks were so supportive.
Thank you all so much.
It is impossible to express proper regard and appreciation for the gift you have given me. That gift is being able to run through, as you know, a very painful and debilitating fascia injury, which YOU made possible.
Ahhh, to finally have answers to all of my hamstring challenges! It is with a huge sigh of relief that your expert evaluation and treatment has given me hope that I can run, hopefully pain-free and fast again! During this entire hamstring fiasco, you were more than my therapist; You were my coach, my confidant, my true inspiration for moving forward.
Through the extensive strength training, stretching and modified running program, complete with lots of cross-training and plastic ice baggies, you guided me, transformed me, from a broken, injured soul, to the strong, capable athlete that I am. There are no words to let you know just what all this means to me. However, please know that I am eternally grateful.
I can’t even tell you how motivated, how appreciative, how awesome I feel to have you in my life. THANK YOU for giving me a competitive Cross-Country (XC) season, one in which I finished 13th in the country in the National Master’s XC Championship and “The Janes” repeated as National XC Team Champions! It was certainly a season I never thought possible. You were the reason I was able to compete at all, you are the reason I will continue to be a competitor no matter the obstacles.
If ever it seems that you have not transcended the bonds of common physical therapy, just know that most people cannot reciprocate their hearts and passion as you do. Most people do not have the expertise, the care, the generosity that you possess. Ron, you are truly extraordinary! Like in the quote below, you do for others what no one can. Thank you for everything. I love you more than I can say.
With complete love and gratitude,
“One of the deepest secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others.” - Lewis Carroll