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Blog-a-Day Challenge Day 8, PT

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Original challenge and question list:

8. Have you ever worked with a physical trainer? One on one? Small group? What skills or talents did the trainer have that helped you? What didn't help?

According the the SparkPeople quiz on fitness lingo, "PT" can refer to Personal Trainer or Physical Therapy. I don't usually see the term "physical trainer," but I assume that today's question intends that term to be the same thing that I understand to be a personal trainer. I've never worked with a personal trainer for any extended period of time. I was part of a group introduced to circuit training for one session, once, in a sales pitch for PT services from my gym. I learned how to use one piece of equipment that I hadn't used before, and I learned a little of the theory of circuit training.

I did join a new gym in July. They offer one free session with a personal trainer for fitness assessment, pretty obviously an attempt to sell more sessions with the trainer. I never used that session, because I was in physical therapy at the time and I didn't want to be pushed beyond what the physical therapist wanted me to be doing.

I learned quite a bit while in physical therapy, some of it stuff that you might associate with personal training. I learned that I had to pay attention to my hip abductors and hip adductors, a couple of muscles that I couldn't name and identify before PT. I learned that there are good uses for the BOSU ball that weight lifters sneer at, and one of those uses would help me avoid running injuries. I learned that the "minor" exercises for balance, hip abductors, hip adductors, and intrinsic foot muscles were more important for me than the vanity exercises like deadlifts, squats, and bench press. I learned that most of what I identified on my own was good stuff to work on, but I hadn't identified everything and I hadn't identified how to balance what I needed to work on.

The most important skill I learned in PT was how to manage a gradual increase in challenge. Mr. Testosterone always wants to ramp things up too fast. The hypochondriac in me wants to just rest when I'm injured. Neither approach is correct, and it's a tricky balance finding the correct level to do while recovering. But the skills I learned in PT for knowing when to push just a little bit harder and how to back off transferred well to running. I credit PT with my newfound ability to run at a sustained slow (for me) pace.

I also learned that physical therapy is very personalized. What I needed to work on to come back from the foot injury, and what I need to do on an ongoing basis to prevent future running injuries, is not necessarily what someone else needs to do. I could tell you what exercises the PT had me do, and how much they helped me; but if you're having problems, you might need different exercises than I need. And I can't tell you which ones you need.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    My company employs physical therapists, mostly geriatric patients, and they perform a very valuable role for our seniors and us younger folks recovering from a procedure or affliction.

    A couple of quick plugs:
    1) The Affordable Care Act has numerous provisions that negatively impact this profession. Okay, I'm now officially off the political soapbox.

    2) October was National Physical Therapy Month (in the US). Might want to acknowledge this to your therapist as an atta-girl or guy.
    1658 days ago
  • NWFL59
    Enjoyed reading your blog this morning. Glad the PT was successful and you're back to running and have more tools to keep you injury free. emoticon
    1658 days ago
    I am a big believer in hiring professionals if you can afford it... and reading books and using videos from the library if you can't! Those guys / gals are pros for a reason, the same reason you're a pro at what you do for a living!

    I have worked with a personal trainer no less than 3 times over my years learning to be fitter. And my recent experience hiring a swim instructor puts it even more firmly in my mind. Worth. Every. Penny.

    All of these times were one on one. Each time I walked away with a routine personalized to work on the bits *I* needed to work on. And advice on form from someone who was actually watching *me* do the exercises that make up the routine.

    In short... "dittos". emoticon
    1659 days ago
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