“PT”.. Personal Training or Physical Therapy?
Whether you are just starting a new workout program or have been active all your life, the question will occasionally arise…Should I seek out a personal trainer? Do I need physical therapy? Is one better than the other?
They both have a niche or special area of expertise. The role of a personal trainer is to provide structured, supervised workout sessions to clients to maximize results. These results can be focused on weight loss, improved muscle strength or general fitness improvements. Personal trainers are trained to work with individuals of all ages from adolescents to adults but most will specialize in a population that they prefer.
Personal Trainers focus on teaching new exercises and breaking up your traditional workout routine to push you to a higher goal. They can work individually or in group settings. They help keep clients accountable for how much and how hard you are working out.
What they are not trained to do is diagnose or fix injuries. This is where the role of a physical therapist comes into play. Physical therapists are required to have a Master’s or even Doctorate degree to practice. This means that they have 3-7 years of physical therapy training on medical conditions, anatomy, physiology and how to treat minor injuries to very severe disabilities.
The primary reason individuals think of physical therapy is that after surgery but there are many more times when a physical therapist may be helpful or even prevent surgery!
Pain is not a typical day to day body signal. If you are experiencing pain, you should seek out treatment to see why you are getting those signals and to see if there is something that can make the pain resolve. This is where physical therapy thrives. If you have an injury from working out such as a pulled muscle or sprained ankle, a few sessions of physical therapy can help you recover from those injuries and get you back into your workouts. If on the other hand, you have difficulty with working out because everything hurts you may need physical therapy before starting a workout program to make sure your muscles are strong enough or flexible enough to tolerate working out.
It’s a team effort between physical therapists and personal trainers! For most of us, we will transition from personal trainers to physical therapists occasionally throughout our lifetime. Seek out physical therapists for injuries, pain, and to help with mobility/balance limitations. Physical therapists are great resources for individuals with a longer medical history for example recovering from stroke, recent severe car accidents, or long history of arthritis. Seek out personal trainers when your body is feeling healthy but you want to push to that next level of fitness and need some guidance.
Fitness related issues will occur from time to time for all people who are active. The more active you are the more likely you will occasionally have an injury due to overuse or pushing your body a bit too hard. The sooner you seek out treatment for these minor injuries the sooner you heal and can return to your routine of fitness, sports or fun!