Recently I had to see a physiotherapist because of the pain in my shoulder and elbow that has been bothering me for years now. That’s when I met Diana, who was doing her master’s degree in physiotherapy. After a couple of sessions, lots of painful manual treatments, and countless exercises, I definitely felt better – I have been doing the exercise sequence once a week ever since :). During one of our sessions, she told me about a patient of hers, whose pain their trainer ignored, causing them more harm than benefit. Dia Dulavics’s writing about professional exercise.
The importance of exercise
In addition to proper nutrition, regular exercise as part of everyday life is also essential for a healthy lifestyle. Not only is exercise important to maintain your health, but it also affects your appearance. It’s not a coincidence that most people’s main motive for training is body toning. However, you should train carefully and wisely to avoid accidents and potential damage.
The importance of professional exercise
Even in everyday life, there are types of movements that, if poorly executed, can cause pain. During training sessions, you should take extra care to avoid such movements as this will increase the risk of injury by performing them repetitively several times in a row. Training begins with the correct posture. In the right pose, the position and load of the joints are even, the tension of the soft parts (muscles, tendons, ligaments) is optimal, and the effort required for the muscles to maintain the position is minimal. Strength training in this situation is the least dangerous. However, in a suboptimal position when there is no even compression of the joints, some parts may overload. The relative position of the bone ends that make up the joints and the angle of the muscles change, some muscles may lengthen, while others may shrink. This causes the affected muscles, ligaments and/or joints to overload, causing pain and, later, degenerative changes, such as abrasion and herniation of the spinal cord.
By maintaining optimal position of the body during training, not only the superficial muscles, but the stabilizer muscles are trained, thus minimizing the risk of injury and helping to create a complaint-free, correct posture.
When to choose a physiotherapist instead of a trainer?
After an injury or surgery, rehabilitation always begins with a physiotherapist, who reviews documentation, asks the client about complaints, and conducts a thorough examination. Knowledge of contraindications (comorbidities, parameters, conditions that limit exercise therapy, e.g. post-fracture condition, high blood pressure, certain cardiovascular complaints) is essential for correct treatment. In case of deviation from normal, improperly controlled physical therapy can be risky and lead to (re)injury.
But you don’t have to give up training even if you do have problems. You just need to get professional assistance, after consulting a doctor, of course.
Another advantage of working with a physiotherapist is the ability to map complaints. Based on their knowledge, they can differentiate and diagnose you, as well as recommend you a proper examination and a specialist. While you work together, they observe the reactions of your body during the exercises and adjust the training program accordingly, as well as consult other professionals about possible medical intervention.
With the knowledge they have acquired during their university studies, physiotherapists are not only competent in the development and conditioning of muscle strength and posture but can also act effectively in the treatment of musculoskeletal complaints and, in some cases, internal problems.
What to look for when choosing a personal trainer?
First of all, it’s important to consult a physiotherapist or a doctor after surgery, injury, or a degenerative musculoskeletal disease. After that make sure to inform the trainer as well so they can check your health thoroughly and plan a training program suited for you based on your medical history. Communication between you and the trainer during training is important. Pay attention to how your body responds, as it’s you who feels the pain, and it’s you who needs to let your trainer know what you experience. Pain is not your friend!
Pain is a warning sign of the body, indicating that you are performing a movement that is harmful to the body, which can cause injury.
Even if you are healthy and free of complaints and you just need a trainer to motivate and guide you, you still need to pay attention to your joints’ protection. You need to communicate with trainers, tell them what your experiences during the exercises were, whether you had any pain, and correct the position accordingly. In the beginning, it is not possible to control from afar. External control is important until the patient understands how to perform each exercise well and operate the muscles correctly during training.
A good trainer listens to the patient’s signals, and the way tasks are performed can provide information about the muscles’ condition. Someone complaining about pain while doing exercises is also informative! They need to test and find out what causes them to complain and why. In such a case, “ignore it, you can handle it!” is the worst possible answer instead of investigating the complaint or changing the exercises. I also warn those who want to exercise to be wary of gym buddies with this attitude! Maybe it’s only weakness or laziness, but it could also be a serious rupture or hernia that causes such complaints.
Seminars for trainers, an opportunity for improvement
I have both positive and negative experiences regarding the skills of trainers. Courses that can be completed in a few days without any prerequisite, health or kinesiology expertise do not provide the knowledge that will allow clients to develop their joints in a suitable way that also protects the joints. In this case, “mindless” training of the body can do more harm than good.
If we only deal with the superficial muscles, our deep stabilizer muscles, which are responsible for maintaining proper position of the joints, remain weak. In the absence of stabilization, joints are not properly loaded during exercise, leading to degenerative changes and pain in the long run. The guest may have nice, developed muscles, but the lack of deep, small muscles can cause deformities and pain. Fortunately, there is a solution for those who recognize their weaknesses and are willing to improve themselves: in courses organized by physiotherapists, they can learn about the proper operation of muscles, their work, optimal development methods, situations, and joint protection during training.
With the right knowledge at hand, we can not only build attractive muscles for our guests, but we can train them in a way that’s beneficial for their health and posture, and prevents injuries.
Source of featured image: unplash.com
Translation by Ági Sturcz