From Pain to Personal Trainer
- January , 2021
- SPF Team
Pain can arise in many forms throughout the body. Identifying where the pain is stemming from is always an important tool to receiving proper treatment. Under most circumstances, the general public will set up a visit with their PCP before seeking out a specialist. However, there are a number of times when it may be very clear to the patient that it is a musculoskeletal injury. In these instances, it can be best to cut out the middle man and go straight to a physical therapist. Physical therapists are experts in movement and the neuromusculoskeletal system. When someone has trouble moving around and functioning through daily activities, PTs are often first in line to be seen before any major interventions are used such as surgery, injections, or pain meds.
Whether a patient goes straight to PT or sees their primary care provider first, it is important to get evaluated. Pain can be deceptive and sometimes refer itself far away from the actual pathology. For example, one of the more commonly known referred pains is called “sciatica” which is caused by injury to the sciatic nerve. Even though the discomfort may be felt only in the calf or foot, the actual damaged area could be all the way up in the glute. Self-treating such a diagnosis could easily lead to delayed recovery or even possibly worsening the injury.
Once the root of the problem has been identified, assuming it’s an orthopedic issue, the vast majority of the time the best option will be to learn rehabilitative exercises. This does take time and effort to correct the problem, but it’s safer and provides more long term benefit than quick fixes like injections or pills. Generally speaking, rehabilitative exercises will focus on motion local to the injured area and grow more broadly into full body movements. At times it may seem excessive to hold a weight above head while ascending stairs just to fix your shoulder issue, but that’s how real life operates. The body needs to learn how to move together as one unit.
Patients will typically see a PT for 10-20 visits and are discharged once they’re able return to their daily activities. After being discharged many people are anxious to keep up with their exercises to ensure they don’t return to their previous lower level of function. This is where personal trainers are great to fill the gap. Even if the person may have seen little success with physical therapy, it’s still recommended that they see a personal trainer to prevent worsening of any issues. Personal trainers have a knack for looking at multi-joint movements (more whole body involvement) and correcting improper movement patterns. By learning to move properly throughout the whole body the client will likely end up reducing stress to the affected area(s). The other major benefit to seeing a personal trainer is that they are able to be seen indefinitely. There is no visit limit driven by insurance that’s kicking someone out the door as seen in healthcare. Having that set of eyes year round is incredibly beneficial because it is so easy to fall back into bad form. Personal trainers will also keep people accountable which ensures the client is always doing their exercises, thus reducing chance of re-injury/worsening their issues.
Since pain can be so complicated, it’s not something to wait on. Get checked out by a healthcare practitioner. If it is something that can be fixed with physical therapy, then personal training will help as well. Everyone only gets one body and any investment in it is always a good one. No one regrets taking care of themselves when they’re still doing all the things they love into old age.