Physical Therapist Working With Personal Trainers

I read an article over at Mike Reinold's blog about collaboration between personal trainers and physical therapist today and I wanted to weigh in on it. I was just going to write a comment on the post, but I have quite a bit to say about it so I'm going to write this. First off, if you're a physical therapist or physical therapy student then you really need to start reading Mike's blog. Now, on with my thoughts.

I think I offer a bit a unique perspective on this topic because I moved from the personal training world into the physical therapy world. One thing that did separate me from most trainers is that I gained my certification through the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiologists (CSEP) as a certified personal trainer (CPT), which requires the completion of a minimum of 2 years of post-secondary studies with completion of credits in 6 core areas. At the time I was a personal trainer I had a bachelors of kinesiology with my CSEP-CPT. A lot of personal trainers have completed a weekend course to gain their certification, with no prerequisite education required. Now, even with my higher education I could not presume to take on the role of assessing a client's needs for recovery without the input of a physical therapist and here's why.

source: Neon Tommy

Even though I had the theoretical knowledge of injuries and corrective exercises I was not trained in assessing an injury and developing a treatment plan. However, if guided by a physical therapist's assessment and treatment plan I could develop a rehabilitative exercise program that suited the needs of my client. With feedback from the physical therapist and the client's progress I could adapt the program.  Without input from the physical therapist I would only be adapting the program from what I saw with the client, being mainly strength improvements or a plateau in improvement.

I will admit that when I was a trainer I thought I was better able to develop a rehabilitative program than I actually was. I based the programs on what the client's reported to me and the couple assessment tools I had gained in my undergraduate degree from some athletic therapy courses I had completed. my rudimentary assessment skills lead me to develop programs that, while not harmful to the client, were not as tailored to the individual's needs as I thought they were. I realize that more now since completing my MscPT than I like to admit.

source: Roger Mommaerts
Now, from a physical therapist standpoint I realize that we simply do not have enough time with a client to develop a truly individualized, progressive exercise program. Sure, I can give isolated exercises for a rotator cuff injury, but I can't guide your through a military press in the clinic. I can give you core stabilization exercise and simple hip extension exercises, but I haven't the resources or time to teach you how to make this functional for lifting by teaching you a deadlift. Enter the collaboration with the personal trainers. By developing a treatment plan and knowing the client's specific needs I can handle the assessment, manual therapy, modalities, and a general home exercise program and leave the progressive exercise program and fitness to the trainer.

I don't want to overstep my bounds here because Mike and Jon covered this topic in greater detail over at I encourage you to go read their post on this. I just wanted to share my opinions here on my blog.

What are your thoughts?
Are you a personal trainer, do you collaborate with physical therapists?

As a physical therapists do you collaborate with trainers?
Do you think that you've tried to take on a larger role as a trainer or therapist than you should?


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