What comes after physical therapy? By various standards and regulations, personal trainers can’t claim to offer injury rehabilitation. That’s for physical therapists. Physical therapists are licensed by states where as the term “personal trainer” is very loosely regulated. But what happens when someone is finished with physical therapy?
Simply finishing physical therapy may not mean someone is ready to return to sport or vigorous exercise. As I discussed in this post, the damaged structure may be repaired, but the nervous system may still be on guard. Thus pain and tightness may persist in someone who has been technically cleared to exercise. He or she still needs the proper guidance in their return to physical activity. Are personal trainers prepared to handle this challenge?
“Personal trainer” has a negative connotation in some circles. According to some, trainers are undereducated, sloppy, and use unsafe methods to get clients in shape. From what I’ve seen, this opinion is often spot on. Many trainers are totally unequipped to work with anyone with movement dysfunction and/or pain. Most trainers are still caught up in machine weight training, bicep curls and simply making their clients work harder and not smarter.
Seems like we need some other grade of exercise professional. We should have higher standards than the typical personal trainer. We should be in conversation with physical therapists, surgeons, chiropractors–even mental health professionals. The education requirements must be higher than what we see with the typical trainer certification. For good or ill, some sort of state licensure may be necessary if for no other reason to convey to our clients that we’ve reached a certain status.
The bottom line is a sizable portion of our population and potential clientele need help overcoming pain and poor movement. Many of these folks have gone through physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture–all sorts of treatment and they may still be looking for pain relief. (The frustrating thing is, in my experience a good number of these therapists are also unprepared to address the cause of pain and dysfunction. Again, this is just my experience but in my quest to address my own pain, most of them never recognized that the site of my pain was not where my problems were rooted.) These people aren’t ready for the typical commercial “kick your butt” sort of workout. There is a clear opportunity here if we’re willing to step into the role of…. what? I’m calling myself a Movement Re-education Specialist.