Many people choose to work with a professional trainer now and at a time when we are becoming an obese society, I see this as a positive effort. There has never been a better time to work with instructors who teach Pilates, yoga and other types of exercise that improves mind and body functions. There may be times, however, where you develop an episode of low back pain over a weekend and when you visit your personal trainer on Monday, they tell you there are things you can do to help your low back. This is something I do not agree with at all. Regardless of their competency in instruction, low back pain can be a red flag for a plethora of reasons and obtaining a proper diagnosis is the only way to develop healing strategies.
Recently I read an article written by Gray Cook, the well-known physical therapist who developed the SFMA exam. SFMA stands for Selective Functional Movement & Assessment exam, and this was discussed in one of our prior blog posts as being an exam we utilize in our clinic. In his article, he made a bold statement that treatment without diagnosis is impossible. I agree completely with his statement and as such, when someone complains to their personal trainer that they are dealing with low back pain, the trainer needs to stop right then and recommend the client be examined by a professional.
When patients are referred to Tulsa Spine and Rehab, we screen them to determine if there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. Our job is to alleviate what is causing the patient’s pain and once we treat the injury, we typically refer them back to their personal trainer so they can continue to build on what we’ve done. The trainer can then help the patient with trunk stabilization, core work or mobility.
We understand the desire to have a level of trust with a personal trainer; you work with them for an hour on a regular basis and develop a relationship. Here at Tulsa Spine, we have worked to educate personal trainers in our community and to establish our own relationship with them. If their client is hurting, it’s important to realize it’s time to stop even the simplest of exercises and refer them for proper diagnosis before that pain can escalate. 50% of the time it isn’t serious, but then there is the other 50% where continuing to exercise will only worsen an injury. Our clinic can tease out an accurate diagnosis and formulate a plan for recovery.
Our end objective is to work with the personal trainers so that their clients can return to them and continue in their exercise programs. It requires teamwork on both sides of the fence and can result in patients becoming stronger and more mobile if we all work together.