Personal Training and Physical Therapy

It happens in music all the time. Your favorite band releases a new song. You listen to it and recognize a voice you don’t find familiar. You do some research and find out another artist was featured on that particular track. You listen to it again and find this collaboration makes the music better even if it is unexpected or someone from a completely different genre. What if we could apply this same concept to our physical health?

Photo Credit: Toralf Thomassen

Photo Credit: Toralf Thomassen

We can and quite easily. Personally trainers and physical therapists have working together to make their clients healthy and strong. Some people believe that these are two separate departments on your way to becoming healthy (especially after injury). The truth is, when personal trainers and physical therapists work together, goals are met quicker and safer than by working separately.

Therapists and trainers have a similar educational background. Understanding the body and how it moves and fixing movements are the chief concern for both parties. Admittedly, therapists are probably better at this as they have a more medical background and have a deeper understanding and can actually diagnose faulty movement patterns. However, both parties work towards the same goal so it only makes sense that they work together. Let’s look at a couple of areas in a fitness program that trainers and therapists can work together.

1. Assessment

Are assessments important? Would you travel cross-country without a map? If you don’t have a proper assessment; that’s basically what you’re doing. For someone with improper body mechanics and faulty movement patterns to start exercising without an idea of what they need to improve will only lead to injury and negative reinforcement of those patterns. The same thing goes for a patient coming off of injury going to a therapist. They assess the injury and diagnose the problem. When therapists and trainers work together to assess an individual, they combine their areas of practice to create a top-notch assessment. Like we said before, a therapist has a deeper understanding of the human body and how it moves. Sharing this information with the trainer and working in tandem to not only restore function to an injury but also strength will give the client/patient a much better experience. A trainer’s scope of practice is relatively small compared to a therapist. We cannot definitively diagnose an injury but we can suggest things that will help to solve movement injuries.

2. Exercise Prescription

Coming off of an assessment, a trainer or therapist will develop an action plan to help solve issues you may have. This is where the communication between parties becomes extremely important. When a trainer and therapist develop a plan to alleviate pain or solve a movement issue; results come quicker. Say you had a knee replacement. Right after surgery you go to a therapist to restore some of the stability and mobility in that joint. Your therapist releases youafter a couple of sessions. Then what? Many people stop there and live with one strong knee and one bad knee. A smarter thing to do would to seek out a personal trainer to help strengthen the muscles in the leg and keep moving. A trainer and therapist can work together to create a

3. Prehab

The medical and fitness industries are constantly changing and evolving. Keeping up with these changes can seem daunting at some points. By learning from each other, therapists and trainers can learn the trends and keep on the cutting edge of treatment. Prehab is a newer concept that some people don’t understand what it actually is. Unfortunately, some of these people are trainers. Simply put, prehab is the use of exercises, stretches, mobility, etc. to prevent injury.

How we achieve this is changing. There are so many ways to prevent injury that some can become lost in the shuffle. Everyone has their own remedies and gimmicks but who really knows how to prevent injuries? You guessed it therapists and trainers. By learning from each other, trainers and therapists can keep you safe and injury free. The last thing we need is to get injured while treating another.

Trainers and therapists are here to help you. Thinking of them as separate steps in your journey back to help is now an old approach. Working with both at the same time benefits you and gets you back to health quicker and more efficiently. Communication is key in this whole process between you, your therapist, and trainer.


Sean Willitts is an ACE certified personal trainer. He graduated from Kutztown University in 2015 with a bachelor’s is sport management and a minor in fitness. Including training at Body Elite, he is also a record holding powerlifter. He uses his practical experience and knowledge to help his clients achieve their strength and fitness goals. plan of action to help keep the knee healthy and make sure progress is being made safely and effectively.

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