Why is having Sports Medicine Knowledge Important as a Personal Trainer?
Whether a fitness professional’s clients are seasoned athletes, fitness enthusiasts, or first-time exercisers, the likelihood of injury remains ever-present.
The fitness professional is often the first person in a position to recognize an injury, or better still, instruct their clients on proper techniques to avoid injury altogether. As a fitness professional, you should be able to promptly recognize an injury and ensure that your clients seek timely and appropriate medical care to minimize downtime from training. Having this Sports Medicine knowledge is in the best health interest of your client and, in turn, the best interest of your business.
In addition to those clients that might develop injuries during training or participation in their chosen athletic pursuit, many potential clients may be suffering from a pre-existing injury. Therefore, a client is more apt to choose a fitness professional knowledgeable about both sports medicine and a variety of injuries and conditions that could directly impact their training progress and success.
A personal trainer in command of injury prevention and sports medicine knowledge is poised to increase their client base, referrals, and respect.
Injury Prevention 101
Regardless of how fit or athletic an individual may appear, unseen conditions and prior injuries, chronic and transient illnesses, or hereditary conditions may be present. Making a pre-participation exam (PPE) a prudent first step before beginning any exercise regimen is a must. The PPE should include the following:
- Clearance from a medical doctor before beginning exercise program/sport
- Comprehensive medical history, to include musculoskeletal, heart, lungs, or other health issues or conditions, as well as relevant family medical history.
- Height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, body fat percentage
- Disclosure of any pre-existing injuries
- Assessment of flexibility, muscular strength/endurance, and cardiorespiratory endurance, and identify deficits.
- Goal Setting
Note: all records or notes containing a client’s medical information must be stored in a private area. Do not allow other clients to view the personal information of another client (HIPAA compliance).
Keeping a Well-Maintained Facility is Key
Another basic, but important, aspect of injury prevention is ensuring the equipment, facilities, and environment where the workout or training takes place are well-maintained and free of hazards.
Proper nutrition and sleep play a pivotal role in the growth, repair, and maintenance of all body cells. Therefore, a poor diet, insufficient sleep, and high levels of stress can result in slower healing of injuries and prolonged muscle soreness.
The Importance of a Proper Warm-Up
Warming-up is an essential pre-activity phase intended to prevent muscle tears and reduce post-activity soreness. An effective warm-up should begin with general movements to increase core and muscle temperatures (e.g., a light jog for 2-5 minutes), progressing into specific stretching movements associated with the specific activity to be performed (e.g., throwing or kicking).
Slowly increase the intensity of the warm-up activity, and sustain the warm-up for 15 minutes, by which time the subject should have begun to sweat — although, the point at which sweating begins differs among individuals based on age, fitness levels, and environmental conditions.
Hot packs and heat rubs can be combined with an active warm-up, but such products should never be used in place of an active warm-up.
Do not rest more than 15 minutes between the conclusion of a warm-up and beginning of the main workout. However, if the subject continues the movement, the warmed-up state can be maintained for up to 45 minutes.
Is Flexibility Universal?
Flexibility refers to the range of motion (ROM) of one or more joints. Flexibility differs from person to person, and sometimes from joint to joint. Flexibility can be limited by bone structure, fat, skin or scar tissue.
Let’s talk about Stretching
A good stretching routine can help increase flexibility. Although stretching cannot guarantee a reduced chance of injury, proper pre-activity stretching can provide an athlete with the flexibility required to perform a particular exercise or task. Four common stretching techniques used to increase flexibility are static, ballistic, and dynamic, and PNF techniques.
The Static Stretch technique is a passive maximal muscle stretch with a 20-30 second hold, performed 3-4 times each. To improve flexibility, the muscle must be stretched beyond its normal range, but avoid over-stretching the ligaments and capsule surrounding the joint. Three times per week for minimal results and six times per week for maximal results.
The Ballistic Stretch technique uses a repetitive bouncing motion. A ballistic stretch may be beneficial if the person is very fit, it mimics their activity and is preceded by static stretching.
The Dynamic Stretch technique is stretching with movement. It promotes increase ROM while also warming up the muscle for activity. It is the bridge between static stretching and activity and between activity and the cool-down. The stretches should be functional, mimic the activity, and require balance and coordination.
The Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretch technique is defined as alternating contractions and stretches. It produces a muscle relaxation through an inhibitory response. There are two common methods of PNF – the “Hold-Relax” method, and the “Contract-Relax” method.
Using the hamstring muscle as an example, have the client lay on his/her back with one leg fully extended upward and the other fully extended on the ground.
Hold-Relax method= Stretch the hamstring to its pain-free limit, hold for 20 seconds, followed by a 10-second isometric contraction. After a couple of seconds of relaxation, the hamstring is again stretched to its pain-free limit. Repeat the procedure three times consecutively on each leg.
Contract-Relax method= Stretch the hamstring to its pain-free limit, hold for 20 seconds, follow with a 10-second isotonic contraction. After a couple of seconds of relaxation, the hamstring is again stretched to its pain-free limit. Repeat the procedure three times consecutively on each leg.
PNF is a very effective method for increasing flexibility. Another benefit of the PNF method, as it applies to the fitness professional, is that the client cannot perform this method alone, and must rely on you to assist them with these stretches. Additionally, one’s level of flexibility can be increased regardless of age. There should be no excuses about being too old to become more flexible.
What is Range of Motion?
There are three main terms associated with the range of motion (ROM):
- Active Range of Motion (AROM)
- Is when the client moves his own limb throughout the range of motion. It is the range one can attain with an active muscle contraction. AROM is not a good test of flexibility, because the muscle is contracted.
- Passive Range of Motion (PROM)
- Is when the fitness professional moves the client’s limb throughout the range of motion. No muscle contraction is required and should go beyond AROM. It is an excellent test of one’s true flexibility and ROM because there is no muscle contraction.
- Resistive Range of Motion (RROM)
- Is when the fitness professional resists the movement of the limb or body part. This can be used to determine the strength of a particular muscle.
Why Your Client Needs to Always Cool-Down
Post-activity phase intended to prevent muscle soreness.
- Gradually decrease the intensity of the activity over 5-10 minutes (e.g., a light jog followed by dynamic stretching after exercise).
- Lactic acid in blood/muscle decreases more rapidly with a slow, progressive active cool-down, rather than an abrupt cessation of activity.
- Prevents blood from pooling in the extremities that can lead to soreness.
- It encourages blood circulation away from the extremities and back to the brain and heart.