Robert Forster, PT, CEO, and founder of Forster Physical Therapy and Phase IV Scientific Health & Performance Center in Santa Monica, Calif., says elite athletes make great rehab partners. They follow instructions explicitly, and make it their job to get healthy as soon as possible.

“Working with results-driven athletes provides an opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t when the sole focus is to achieve increased function and decreased pain,” he says. “They are often so finely tuned that the clinician sees results in intervention nearly immediately. Misses are obvious as well. This of course, is rewarding in its own right, giving one confidence to stay the course when delivering the same therapies to the general public.”

Forster has worked with Pete Sampras, Maria Sharapova, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Kobe Bryant, and Allyson Felix, among others, and has benefited from putting his treatment skills to the test in what he describes as “the high-stakes arena of elite athletics.”


Forster says that, when possible, it’s best to treat injured athletes twice daily to resolve the injuries faster. It also keeps them on task and prevents depression and anxiety about missing competitions and training time. “This allows more repetition of goals and rehabilitation philosophy,” he says. “You will usually find a very active listener in injured athletes, who are focused on doing whatever it takes to get back.” Among the tools most effective in treating elite athletes, he says, is cross-fiber friction massage for most connective tissue disorders, used to release scar tissue and improve function and performance capacity.

“Next is a well-thought-out and carefully progressed therapeutic strength and flexibility program, again for its ability to improve function. We find phonophoresis with dexamethasone very effective in reducing inflammation, and the ultrasound does well to prepare the tissues for deep tissue friction massage,” he says. Ultrasound contrasts are very effective in improving pain and inflammation, Forster says, and all treatments end with ice; athletes are advised to ice three to five times daily for 20 minutes with ice cubes and water in a plastic bag or using an ice bag. Gel packs are not effective in managing inflammation and swelling, he says, because they don’t stay cold long enough to reduce temperatures within deeper tissues, and yet may initially come out of the freezer too cold, placing athletes at risk for frostbite.

“An effective icing program is the single most important thing an athlete can do when treating their own injuries in addition to protecting the injured tissues from additional aggravation with bracing or taping during cross-training and daily activities,” Forster says. As soon as it is possible, we get our athletes in the pool. Pete Sampras, Jackie Joyner Kersee, and Allyson Felix suffered nearly career ending injuries shortly before their dreams of Wimbledon and the Olympics. Holding and raising an athletes fitness while injured is critically important. Both Jackie and Allyson suffered injuries that had to be treated with his Waterpower© program; they emerged from Forster’s rehabilitation program and set world records.


Losing fitness, falling behind in training, and the loss of one’s social network, injured runners quickly become depressed.

Few realize the upside of their injuries. For athletes, every injury has silver lining. As with any set back, injuries offer you chance to learn more about yourself.

From the day you realize your pain is not going away and you have to admit you are injured, and through the process of getting a diagnosis and then rehabilitating your injury, there are many opportunities to learn about your body, about the science of endurance training, and your emotional connection to your sport.


Hip impingement syndrome has become common among teen girls and can often lead to surgery. However, certain exercises can prevent these invasive procedures. Dr. Bruce Hensel interviews Robert Forster, PT and reports for the NBC4 News.


Robert Forster, PT has worked with Professional Athletes for his entire career, spanning 26 years. His early work at Centinela Hospital and with The Kerlan Jobe Orthopedic Group put him in rehab programs for professional athlete within months of completing his Physical Therapy Training and Education.

Over the years, Forster has worked closely with the most successful Olympic and Professional Sport coaches in the world, and they have come to rely on his expertise and insight to solve the most difficult injuries and performance problems.

Understanding the needs of the professional athlete is central in the Phase IV Professional Athlete Program. The total commitment to performance and knowing what it takes to win permeates the Phase IV comprehensive approach. Today’s pro athlete needs not only work hard, they work smart utilizing science in the pursuit of Fitness and Health to get an edge over the competition. Accurate structural and metabolic assessment of fitness, injury factors, nutritional needs and skill execution all play a significant role in the Phase IV evaluation process.

At Phase IV Health & Performance Center, Exercise Physiologists conduct state-of-the-science fitness assessments and prescribe accurate heart rate specific training regimes to correct voids in the spectrum of metabolic fitness needed for your sport. Physical Therapists evaluate for joint Pathomechanics to correct and predict and prevent where future injury may strike. Registered Dietitians evaluate and fine tune high-octane nutritional regimes to power your performance towards victory. Biomechanical experts and some of the world’s best technique coaches utilize DartfishTM computer video analysis to diagnosis and correct faulty technique in your sport specific movements.

Together, your Phase IV performance team will work with you to set up a yearly plan of Periodization training and diet to match the requirements of your sport, all season long. You will be educated in proper strength development and stretching regime, warm up, cool down and aggressive recovery techniques. You will gain the knowledge of when to workout, when to rest and recover and how to eat to excel in your sport. In short, you will learn to utilize science to improve performance, avoid injury and preserve your body in a comprehensive program aimed to extend your career and earnings.


PHASE IV Health & Performance Center is dedicated to improving the health and lifestyle of people of all ages. Our philosophy and expertise is rooted in science. We utilize scientific evaluation techniques, state-of-the-science training protocols, and proven nutritional guidance to provide sustainable weight management solutions based on facts. based on facts, not opinions or fads.
Over the past 35 years we have provided comprehensive nutrition and fitness plans to the world’s most accomplished athletes; and we apply the same scientific principles to create an individualized program of exercise and diet to empower you to lose unwanted pounds, play in the yard with your grandkids, run that marathon you always wanted, qualify for the Ironman World Championships, become a scratch golfer, or manage your health risks. No matter your age, abilities or goals, PHASE IV is dedicated to helping you acquire the healthy lifestyle you’ve always desired, and the personal weight goals and ideal performance by unlocking the mysteries of your personal physiology, and finding your optimum fat burning exercise zones.
The perfect balance of training and exercise, recovery, and nutrition, is a science. Science-based heart rate prescriptions are based on your metabolic testing results. Using your testing results, we will design a weight management program for you based specifically on your own uniquely personal physiology, genetics and metabolism.
Your dietary intake will be analyzed for macro and micronutrient content. Deficiencies and excesses in your diet and exercise will be identified. You will receive personalized dietary guidelines specific to your needs based on your activity level, and a PHASE IV registered dietitian will review your progress and make necessary adjustments to your program. We will define what you need to eat and when you need it based on the science of healthy nutrition and your activity level. Learn how to achieve sustainable weight management goals with PHASE IV science!


Training is only half the battle when it comes to achieving the performance and body you desire. Food is the other.Just like with your training, a science-based approach to what you put in your body and when you do it has a great effect on your ability to achieve your athletic and health goals. The PHASE IV approach to health and fitness involves guided exercise and an easy-to-follow, “close-to-the- earth” diet. Both are designed for one singular goal: metabolic efficiency—to make you a better butter burner. But where do you start?

How DO YOU construct a dietary program that addresses your unique personal physiology, genetics, lifestyle, and metabolism? Our thorough understanding of the intricate synergistic relationship between nourishment, lifestyle, exercise and enhanced metabolic function, will result in a science based program that defines exactly how to fuel your body, and the exact calories you need to fuel your workouts and lifestyle while managing your weight goals. With PHASE IV individualized programs and support, you will achieve your goals and create the body you’ve always wanted!