Trainer? Therapist? What Do We Call Ourselves & What’s Our Role? Part II


Post Therapy

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.

What’s Needed

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.

2 thoughts on “Trainer? Therapist? What Do We Call Ourselves & What’s Our Role? Part II

  1. Movement Re-education Specialist, I like that!

    At my gym I asked a “trainer” once about some specific exercises that would help to build bone mass and he gave me the weirdest look. He’d never heard of it. Excercise, he said, builds muscle, not bones. I had a pretty good idea this guy was not educated beyond a two-week course. Online, probably.

    What do you think of the Feldenkreis Method? I once took some classes, which I thought were very interesting.

    Keep moving!

  2. Kyle

    Your instincts were good on that trainer. Ideally he’ll gain some new knowledge soon.

    Feldenkrais is interesting stuff. I’ve done a little myself and it helped my running gait. Z-Health has a good bit in common with Feldenkrais, as does tai chi and the Alexander Technique from what I understand. All these things help connect or reconnect us to good and proper movement patterns.

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