Team Israel Takes Leap of Faith in World Baseball Classic

Posted by | Posted in Baseball, Community, Events, Fun & Sundry, Our Therapists, SPEAR in the media, Sports, Team SPEAR-IT | Posted on 03-14-2017

Our CEO, and Former Professional Baseball Player, Dan Rootenberg, is Along for the Ride!

If you’re following the World Baseball Classic, you’ll certainly know about Team Israel, an unlikely team of players with a 4-1 record, stacking up wins against some of the top ranked teams in the world. Against all odds, the team—ranked 41st in the world prior to the start of the competition—beat top-ten ranked Korea, Taiwan and Netherlands and on Saturday, went on to beat perennial powerhouse Cuba 4-1 in the second round of the tournament. The team is looking to bounce back from their first setback, a 12-2 loss to the Netherlands on Monday. Team Israel is most definitely still in the game.


Not since L.A. Dodgers ace pitcher Sandy Koufax chose not to play on Yom Kippur during the 1965 World Series, has there been this much attention on Jewish baseball. This is also the first time Team Israel has qualified for the Classic, after coming within a win of securing a spot in 2013. This year, they punched their ticket, earning the Classic’s 16th and final slot. And behind-the-scenes, away from all the media coverage and interviews, a former pro ball player provides strength and conditioning and physical therapy guidance to these unlikely underdogs.

United by Heritage

Managed by Rockies minor league manager Jerry Weinstein, Team Israel is a ragtag mix of major and minor league players. The Israel Association of Baseball scoured the world to find the best Jewish ball players, even contacting synagogues in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. There are a handful of former or current New York Mets, including former first baseman Ike Davis, utility infielder Ty Kelly, and Zach Thornton, who pitched for the Mets AAA Affiliate in Las Vegas last year. The final roster includes some older players and many for whom these are the biggest games they’ll play all year; none is currently on a 40-man major league roster.

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The majority of the team is American, permitted to play for Team Israel by way of the Heritage Rule: with at least one Jewish grandparent, they automatically qualify for citizenship in Israel, which is enough to qualify them for the team within the WBC rules. The team has two players who are Israeli citizens: pitchers Dean Kremer and Shlomo Lipetz.

What’s the secret to Team Israel’s success? First is team chemistry. They are very close, playing loose and having a great time. Their mascot—a 5-foot Mensch on the Bench—has his own locker, where players leave him offerings of Manishewitz and gefilte fish. (On the recent flight to Tokyo, the Mensch had his own seat on the plane; the flight staff insisted he wear a seatbelt.) The players, many of whom hadn’t explored their Judaism prior to this experience, are now bonding over their connection both to Judaism and to Israel.

SPEAR On the Scene

It also helps that they’ve got arguably the best physical therapist/trainer team in the business keeping them limber and in top condition. Dan Rootenberg, founder and CEO of SPEAR Physical Therapy, is serving as Team Physical Therapist and Strength & Conditioning Coach for the team. He is a part of an all-star medical staff consisting of head trainer Barry Weinberg, who has 30 years of major league training experience with the Yankees, Cardinals and A’s; Josh Guterman, a trainer in the Colorado Rockies system, and Yoni Rosenblatt, a highly-skilled team PT and owner of True Sports PT in Baltimore.

Each morning, Dan dons his PT hat as he heads to the ballpark with players requesting treatment before a practice or game. “Our aim is to support the athletes, get them in as good a game shape as possible, help decrease the risk of injury, and promote faster recovery,” Dan explains.


After an hour of triaging players, Dan, in his other role as Strength & Conditioning Coach, takes the team through warm up and stretches. He alternates between dynamic and static stretching, and will change up his plan according to feedback from the team.

“This is a group of professionals that knows their bodies’ needs extremely well,” shared Dan. “Some of them have a surprisingly deep knowledge of rehab and human anatomy.”

During team practices, Dan hits fungoes and participates in infield drills. During games, he’ll take pitchers about to take the mound through stretching and range of motion exercises that prepare them to throw 90-plus mph balls. His time on the field—a major change of pace from a typical day in midtown NYC—is something he really enjoys.

Takes One to Know One

Dan has his own esteemed history with the Israel Baseball League. After competing in five European championships playing for the Zurich Barracudas, he was the first player to be signed in 2007 by the Israel Baseball League, the first professional baseball league in the Middle East. His time with the IBL lasted one, incredibly memorable season, and it was the friendships developed during that season that led to the opportunity with Team Israel today.

“I was also part of the team [as Team PT] in 2013 when we lost to Spain in 10 innings and failed to qualify [for the WBC],” Dan explains. “Qualifying in Brooklyn this fall and now winning pool A against all odds has been an incredible experience.”


He continues. “From an organizational leadership standpoint, it’s special to be part of a group of individuals united with a common cause doing what nobody but us imagined possible.

“From a heritage standpoint,” Dan notes, “this experience pierces a deeper emotional layer. It’s remarkable given the history of our people to stand here, competing fiercely on the global stage, outperforming all expectations but our own. Before every game, during the national anthems, I can’t help but get choked up. It happens every single game.”

Bringing it Home

As a lifelong student of leadership coaching, Dan has taken this extraordinary opportunity with Team Israel to learn from both players and coaches, and is excited to bring the latest treatment techniques home for patients, and to share fresh coaching and leadership techniques with SPEAR’s executive leadership team members (one of whom recently returned from the Rio Olympic Games as the team therapist for USA Volleyball).

“Success on the world athletic stage, or at home in a business setting, is the same,” Dan says. “It’s all about teaching and drilling the fundamentals and asking the right questions.”

As for Team Israel, its unlikely adventure will continue. Moving past Monday’s loss, the team is poised to play Japan on Wednesday. If they win, Israel will have a good shot at advancing to the semifinals in Los Angeles.

How to Avoid Ski Injuries This Winter

Posted by | Posted in ACL, Community, Education, knee injuries, Our Therapists, Skiing, Tips & Favorites | Posted on 02-08-2017

How to avoid skiing injuriesSPEAR Physical Therapist and Ski Instructor Gives Five Ways to Prevent Common Ski-Related Knee Problems

It’s peak ski season here in New York City, and ski injuries are presenting at physical therapy offices throughout NYC. The most common by far, are to the knee, specifically the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Matt Hastings, PT, DPT at SPEAR, was a ski instructor in Breckenridge, Colorado, for three years prior to becoming a physical therapist, and his passion for snow sports runs deep. So does his experience with all kinds of ski and boarding-related injuries, particularly the dreaded ACL tear—dreaded due to its frequency and the duration of recovery, often six months or more.

Even with a decline in ski injuries over the last number of years, if 2017 is like prior seasons, 20,000 skiers (more commonly women) will tear ACLs this year. The good news? Many ACL tears and other injuries can be avoided with some focused pre-ski training and vigilance on the slopes.

Hastings offers five tips for an injury-free ski season.

1: Strengthen Specific Muscles Prior to Your First Ski Trip

Improving overall fitness—endurance, strength, stability and power— can go a long way toward helping you prevent ACL and other ski injuries. Isolating muscle groups like the quads, glutes and hamstrings is key to maintaining balance when skiing or snowboarding. In the lead up to ski season, Hastings recommends  a combination of isolation, compound and plyometric exercises such as wall sits, lunges, box jumps, front squats and Bosu squat holds that parallel the movements in skiing and snowboarding.

2:Warm-Up Before Hitting the Slopes

Adequate stretching will help get you to après ski in one piece. Hastings prescribes an active dynamic warm up with a focus on movements that mimic activities you are about to perform, including lunge walks (forward and lateral), narrow and wide squats, quad pulls and knee hugs.

3: When Scared or Out of Control, Go to the Side

“We have a tendency when we are scared to sit backwards, which forces the knee into a position where you’re in the greatest danger of tearing your ACL,” Hastings says. “You want to go to the side if you’re feeling out of control or unsafe while making sure to avoid obstacles and other skiers.” By bending your knees slightly and falling onto your hip you will avoid putting your knee in a dangerous position that could lead to injury.

4: Listen to Your Body

“When you’re getting to that point when your body is telling you no, there’s a reason for that.” Ski easier at the end of the day, when you are typically fatigued.

5: Follow Ski Codes

There is a skier Responsibility Code established by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) that includes stopping in a place that’s safe for you and others, looking uphill and yielding to other skiers, knowing how to use the lifts safely, and always staying in control. “Pay attention and watch out not only for yourself, but for everyone else.”

SPEAR Wins National Entrepreneurship Award

Posted by | Posted in Community, Our Therapists, Rewards, SPEAR in the media, Team SPEAR-IT | Posted on 01-03-2017


blog post header National Entrepreneurship Month Winner

Being recognized for providing great service to customers? We’ll take it! That’s what we live for!

Thanks to our HR software business partner Zenefits, SPEAR recently received a National Entrepreneurship Month award for our “creativity, service to customers, and contributions to the economy.” Zenefits recognized a limited number of successful businesses back in November, and SPEAR was honored to be included.

Zenefits lists the following reasons for honoring SPEAR:

1. Our democratic management structure
2. The prominent voice our employees have in the workplace
3. Our SPEAR Future Leader Program, which trains staff to lead the company into the future

Zenefits is a valuable SPEAR business partner, and has helped us improve our recruiting and HR systems during a time of significant growth – as we’ve opened five new offices in the last two years.

Thank you, Zenefits! We’re happy to serve our customers.

How We Won The Practice of the Year Award

Posted by | Posted in Community, Events, Fun & Sundry, Inspiration, Our Therapists, Rewards, SPEAR in the media, Team SPEAR-IT | Posted on 11-22-2016

As much of an honor it is to be named the Practice of the Year, the process that got us there was equally as enjoyable.

Being nominated by a highly-respected industry colleague, then working with our internal team to complete the Nomination Form, gave us a chance to really appreciate each and every one of our teammates and colleagues, as well as the amazing field we’re so lucky to be in, which helps our fellow man get “back to life”.

Here we show you all the documents and media associated with this process, from initial recommendation letter through the acceptance speech, and our announcement. We hope it becomes a ‘time capsule’ of sorts, and allows us to look back on this time with great reverence for years to come.

Our CEO, Dan Rootenberg’s, Acceptance Speech



The Letter of Support

The official “Letter of Support,” authored by Alan Balavender, President of PTSMC in West Hartford CT, offers additional insight into why SPEAR’s team members stood out in 2016.

Our Award Introduction Video



Awards Ceremony Pictures





Purpose and Criteria

The Jayne L. Snyder Practice of the Year Award is given to a practice for innovative operation or a specific project, which promotes a positive image of physical therapist-owned businesses in the community. It also acknowledges an individual member who has made outstanding and enduring contributions to their community.

The criteria for the award is that the practice must:

1) Demonstrate innovative operation or a specific project which promotes a positive image of physical therapist-owned businesses in the community.


2) Have positively affected the shape, scope and a quality of physical therapist-owned businesses.

3) Have contributed to the overall and enduring development of physical therapy as a caring profession.

4) Demonstrate a commitment to mentoring.

Our Blog Post Announcement

SPEAR Named The Nation’s Top Physical Therapy Practice

Always Improving — Even Our Look!

Posted by | Posted in Back to Life, Community, Fun & Sundry, Inspiration, Team SPEAR-IT | Posted on 11-15-2016

The Meaning of Our New Logo:

From SPEAR President, Dan Rootenberg


“It is our belief that we are not put on this earth to simply be who we are. We are here to evolve, develop, self-actualize. That is the fractal inside SPEAR at every level.  In our logo, SPEAR’s origin is symbolized by maroon, our original color palate, currently going into its 18th year. However, we are evolving, moving forward, and shaping our future. The blue sky color we have introduced represents the future that we see for our team, our patients, our community. The nexus between the blue sky and the labor of love (maroon) is the deep red where the magic happens, where we heal the world, our patients and ourselves, one relationship at a time. Going into the future, stronger, together.

You may also notice the letters are spaced out with room to grow. The room we all need to occasionally make mistakes, to not be perfect, never to be finished. The letters rounded, and uncrowded, without sharp edges, still evolving much like each of us. Life can’t wait.”

-Dan Rootenberg, SPEAR President


The Details Behind The Logo:

From the SPEAR Marketing and Design Team


The SPEAR team has worked to outperform itself each and every month for 18 years. In that time, we’ve grown from two guys sharing one treatment room to 150 team members across ten NYC locations.

We thought it was time for our second logo refresh.

SPEAR Physical Therapy Logo over time

Our Focus

Change can be hard. But change can be good. And we believe that we accomplished a quality change. But it wasn’t easy.

We established a few key priorities:

Vision: Show ourselves to be a great COMPANY, with a vision for the future; not just a great PHYSICAL THERAPY company.

Never forget: Provide A NOD TO OUR PAST, but evolve beyond our current design.

Relationships: Continue to focus on our highest business priority: RELATIONSHIPS. The relationships we’ve built, and continue to build, with referring physicians, local hospitals, our amazing team, community fundraising organizations, and of course the thousands of individual New Yorkers we build bonds with each and every day that we are here to serve.

An Iconic Design

We wanted to have a recognizable icon that could be easily used across multiple platforms, specifically from business cards and t-shirts, to Facebook and Twitter.

And the SPEAR guy was first place to start. He symbolized activity and health, seemed to offer an obvious acknowledgment to what type of company we were, formed an abstract “S” to hint at the first letter of our name, and had been with us through two logos and nearly 18 years!

So in an effort to honor our humble beginnings, we brainstormed numerous versions of a new “SPEAR Guy.” We aimed to maintain our past and ensure our loyal followers could immediately recognize our new look.

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But to the SPEAR team, none of these evolutions properly displayed our focus on RELATIONSHIPS, and none even hinted towards a VISION of continual improvement. And as we researched industry competition a bit more, we realized this symbol of an abstract human became just too cliche for the industry. (Google it and you will see!) It seemed that achieving a unique look by keeping our “SPEAR Guy” icon might be an impossible task.

And besides, maybe it was time to completely reinvent ourselves. Once again, the mantra is that we are now a great company in general — not just a great physical therapy company.

We became more specific in certain terms we wanted to drive the design, and even practiced using them when explaining the logo to people who asked. These terms included: unity, bond, friendship, interdependence, dynamic, fluidity, aspiration, direction, wholeness, goals, connectivity, movement, power, excelling, guidance, drive, focus and healing.

You will see each of these words, visually, within the designs below. And we also explored utilizing the “S” again on its own as our “icon of the future.”

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Now we were talking! A handful of these designs began to stand out, and appeared to us as obvious visual versions of the words and terms we prioritize each day. Especially:

Relationships: Bonding, Interdependence, Interconnectivity, and Alignment.

Vision: Growth, Direction, Outperforming, Improving, Aspiration, Goals, Movement, Excelling, and Guidance.

We began to eliminate from here.

The sharp, pointed-edge icons were eliminated because we believed the subconscious fear of sharp edges in healthcare.


We eliminated the “S” icons because they were too similar to other logos, and simply didn’t offer that subjective beauty we were looking for. The hand icons seemed too literal, and may have given viewers the sense that we only treated hands, so they were also eliminated.

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We narrowed it down to the following, which provided the perfect combination of bonding and improvement, interdependency and forward-thinking:

screenshot-2016-11-14-16-01-20 screenshot-2016-11-14-17-29-49 screenshot-2016-11-14-16-03-12

screenshot-2016-11-14-16-03-29 screenshot-2016-11-14-16-01-40

The “Upward A-Legs” Overlapping Arrow

We call it the “Upward A-Legs,” or “Upward A” for short. (Overlapping Arrow is also a less creative option!) Each logo that made our short list included an icon similar to the Upward A-Legs, which offered a few possible abstract interpretations:

A Spear: A fairly-literal ‘spear’ that could help with name recognition

Forward Direction: A forward or upward-facing arrow that showed we had a vision of constant improvement and progress

Legs: When upright they appear to be abstract legs, which we know are the base of a person’s body and activities.

Overlap: Overlapping lines and colors, which represent how interdependent our business and people have become, and how each of our parts become “multipliers” in our vision. Our whole is greater than the sum of our parts.

And of course one more literal use that needs very little interpretation: it will be used to spell the “A” in SPEAR.


Pop and Past

Without our SPEAR Guy or “S” icons turning more into an abstract symbol, the only way for us to honor our past was through color. The maroon color had been with us from Day 1, and the gray for eight years as a highlight and text color. So we started there.

But we needed more. We wanted to add a noticeable “pop,” for lack of a better word, and hoped to catch the eyes of today’s surfers and skimmers.

Let the exploration begin:



More than Pop and Past

But it quickly became much deeper than that. As we put more thought into the importance of color, our CEO, Dan Rootenberg became more reflective. In our discussions, we unearthed a deep belief: that we were not put on this earth to simply be who we are; we are here to evolve, develop, and self-actualize.

That is what SPEAR symbolizes.

So the SPEAR origins shall be symbolized by the maroon, our 18-year-old color who will NOT be moving out this year. However, we are also evolving, moving forward, and shaping the future.

How do we symbolize that through color and not just through our logo’s icon?

Blue. Our blue sky approach to growth. The blue sky represents the endless sea of unlimited future growth and opportunity that we see for our team, our patients, and our community. It’s our visionary approach that we believe offers unlimited potential for our team and community.

The Nexus

The nexus — where the colors from each side of the “Upward A-Legs” overlap and combine — identifies where and how “the magic happens.” Our blue sky vision of the future combines with the deep maroon color of our labor of love from the past. This is where the healing occurs, where doctors meet our therapists who meet the community that makes life. Most importantly, this is where patient and therapist meet to depend on each other to get back to life — one relationship at a time, stronger together.


One more note about the typeface. You will notice the letters are spaced out with room to grow; the room we all need to occasionally make mistakes, to not be perfect, never to be finished. And the letters themselves are rounded, uncrowded without sharp edges. They seem to be still evolving, much like each of us, sturdy yet still strong.

The End Result


Thank You

Thank you for giving our company the chance to positively impact your life, and we hope our “Upward-A” becomes an inspirational icon as we get you Back To Life. Because we know that Life Can’t Wait.