Personal Training Series: Putting the patient at risk

A patient came to me from training one on one with a trainer. She’d achieved many of her training goals in the gym, and therefore decided she wanted a new challenge. She asked the trainer to set a new challenge; and so the trainer decided to make her an Olympic weight lifter. This client was 5 foot tall, of medium build, and had never done heavy weight training before. The trainer gave her a deadlift to do, and in the process she felt a sudden sharp pain in her lower back and dropped the weights. She was in agony, could not sleep and noticed the pain whenever she was sitting for prolonged periods of time. On assessment she had significantly damaged ligaments around her sacro-iliac joint and it was now hypermobile. The treatment for this condition required regular physiotherapy, Pilates, and a modification of her training.

The above story is an example of an inexperienced trainer pushing the client beyond what should be expected of him / her (in this case a 5 foot tall medium built woman). The client has stopped going to that trainer and now requires more low level exercise training, rather than high level training such as running and weight training – which is what she originally desired.

When a physiotherapist and a trainer work closely together this situation can be avoided. The physiotherapist and trainer will assess whether an exercise programme is appropriate to give to the client, then find an alternative training method or set a different and more realistic goal if necessary. The client benefits from avoiding injury, continuing training, and having constant surveillance of how his / her progress is going. This is an example of why a physiotherapist and a personal trainer working together with a client makes a great team.

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