All posts by CPMC Physical Therapist

CPMC Outpatient Physical Therapist working with orthopedic, surgical, and sports medicine caseload. Always interested in collaborative discussions.

How is a Physical Therapist qualified?

Who are Physical Therapists?
Physical therapists are experts on human movement. Through the use of evidence based practice, physical therapists employ techniques and exercises to help patients develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and function. Physical therapists focus on identifying and enhancing the quality of life and movement potential through promotion, prevention, treatment/intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation.

How are Physical Therapists Qualified?
Physical therapists must graduate from an acredited Physical Therapy Association higher education program. 202 of the 211 accredited physical therapy programs in the US are accredited at the doctoral level. After graduation, physical therapists must pass a State board certified exam to receive their license. Additionally, therapists can receive advanced certifications through the American Physical Therapy Association in their areas of expertise.  

CPMC is lucky to have 9 OCS certified physical therapists on staff. See our blog on ‘What does OCS mean?’ for more information.

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Why does walking up and down hills cause me so much pain?

Living in San Francisco, many of us walk to work, do not have cars, and live in very hilly areas. Because many of us do not have a choice to avoid hill walking so we trudge up them, perhaps in pain. A common question we get asked as physical therapists is why it hurts to walk up or down hills.

Two common injuries we see in the clinic are knee pain and low back pain. Walking on hills can affect both depending on what the pathology is.

Walking up hills

Although it seems more difficult on your legs, our bodies are designed to endure them easier IF we use the right muscles. Our gluteals (buttocks) are the powerhouse in our legs and walking up hill requires good control with our core (abdominals) and gluts to protect our back and knees. However, if our gluts and core are weak excessive strain through the knee and low back may occur.

Walking up hills also require sufficient calf flexibility in the ankle. If you don’t have this or are walking in a shoe with poor support or a heel, excess compression may occur in the front of the knee (patellofemoral joint) or the low back (lumbar spine).

Walking down hills

Walking down hills, believe it or not requires a more difficult type of muscular contraction (eccentric) from a smaller muscle group (quads). The quads and core muscles must work as a unit to slowly descend down hills and if either of these are week, the knee will have more compression or shearing forces affecting the patellofemoral joint or meniscus. If the core is not stabilizing the low back, increased compression through the low back may occur.

The Solution?

  • strengthen your gluts
  • strengthen your core
  • strengthen your quads
  • stretch your calves
  • wear supportive shoes (no heels).


See past video of these exercises in action on our Facebook page.

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Orthopaedic Certified Specialist

What does OCS mean? And why are we so proud to have 9 of these specialists on our Physical Therapy staff?

The Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) is a licensed Physical Therapist who has advanced clinical knowledge, experience, and skills in the practice of orthopaedic, or the study of the musculoskeletal system which includes bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. 

This is a voluntary process of taking a very difficult exam through the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) after having completed the minimum number of years with orthopedic conditions.

As of June 2009, there are 913 OCS certified physical therapists in the state of California.  There are 9 OCS certified PTs at CPMC!

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Injury prevention and helpful hints by Physical Therapists

Welcome to our Physical Therapy Sports and Wellness Program at California Pacific Medical Center.

We see many Physical Therapy patients each day with similar concerns, all asking the same questions. So, we thought, if they want to know, why not give everyone the answers?

Ask away…

In the meantime, stay tuned for one of the most common questions “How long do I ice after an injury. Why did someone tell me to heat after I iced?”