Let me ask you something. Do you think you’re pretty good at driving your car? I mean, you’ve been doing it since you’ve been what...15? 16? If you grew up on some back country roads like I did, it may be even earlier than that. For many of you reading this, you’ve been driving for decades, so it’s probably safe to assume that you’re pretty efficient at driving a car. Now, how effective do you think you’d be at building your car from the ground up...? Yeah, me either. That’s why when something is wrong with my car, I take it to the professionals.
If you don’t have any formal training in exercise science, strength and conditioning, etc., then you attempting to build your own workouts because “I played college sports,” or, “I’ve been working out my whole life,” is the equivalent to you trying to build your own car just because you’ve been driving since you were a kid.
The problem with the fitness industry though, is that the barrier of entry is so incredibly low. Any 18-year-old who pays some money to take an exam online can become a personal trainer, touting themselves as someone strangers should trust with their health and fitness goals.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some really knowledgeable trainers out there who can get incredible results for you. The issue is, those trainers are few and far between, and the rest of the field is watered down by everyone else. I see it all the time: A trainer taking someone through a “workout” which typically consists of a circuit of different machines while they swipe through Instagram and turn into a glorified rep counter for you, all while charging an average of $100 per session.
There is something seriously wrong with that picture.
The solution is to get to a professional, a physical therapist who has a background in strength and conditioning. Now, I’m obviously biased, but hear me out. Below are my top three reasons why the next time you’re looking to make a change in your health and fitness journey, you should look at a physical therapist with a background in strength and conditioning.
1. They spend 7 years becoming experts on the musculoskeletal system. Did you know that Physical Therapy is a doctoral level profession? Physical therapists spend four years in undergrad, typically obtaining a bachelor's degree in exercise science, where they learn the ins and outs of human performance, before taking their training to the next level by getting a doctorate degree that is more specialized on the human musculoskeletal system than any other healthcare provider, short of an orthopedic surgeon. That’s an incredible amount of training and knowledge with which to trust your health and fitness journey.
2. They know how to not let injuries derail you from your fitness goals. Physical therapists see injuries every day in the clinic, and just like any other profession you start to recognize patterns. Patterns such as poor breathing patterns leading to back injuries; poor hip mobility leading to stress fractures in your feet; poor upper back mobility leading to shoulder pain; and endless others. Simply put, performance based physical therapists know what “normal” human movement should look like, especially when under load (which is where most problems arise) and when deviations from “normal” can set you up for a higher likelihood of getting injured. Being able to catch the deviations will not only prevent injury, but they will help boost your performance and help you achieve your goals faster.
3. They understand how complex variables can play into your performance. Sleep, stress management, breath work, joint mobility, previous injury history, psychosocial implications that come from previous injuries, illnesses, etc. - all of these are crucial variables that can directly impact how well you progress towards your goals. Chances are, your local globo gym personal trainer isn’t going to be able to piece those together for you. That’s where a performance physical therapist comes in. We work with these variables every single day and know how to manage them with your programming.
Now, the point of this article is not to bash personal trainers. There are plenty of physical therapists who have no business handling your fitness goals. But, a performance based physical therapist with a strong background in strength and conditioning has a unique blend of skill sets that will be able to best set yourself up for success. At Athletes’ Potential, every single one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy has a background in physical therapy, and we’d love to help you with your fitness goals as well.
It depends on how serious you are though...there are plenty of “5 minute oil changes” out there who can talk through some exercises. But, if you’re ready to take your health and fitness goals seriously, then it’s time to get to an expert.
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Jake, PT, DPT, CSCS
Dr. Danny and staff's views on performance improvement, injury prevention and sometimes other random thoughts.