It’s important to maintain exercise, especially as you age. As physical therapists, you may be seeing more active seniors looking to stay fit after injuries or orthopedic surgery.
But active seniors who are keen on keeping their bodies fit may be signing up for gym classes or doing routines that are no longer safe. Think of all those Zumba classes or senior weight training classes. Who knows if the instructors are aware of their medical conditions and past injuries.
This can lead to serious complications and even new injuries that can derail a fitness program.
Since active seniors have different exercise needs than a younger population, it might be difficult to determine what kind of program would best serve them. Can they be well-managed by a personal trainer? Or are they better off with a physical therapist? Both are needed, It’s just that they both have different roles.
The Role Of Personal Training
Personal training is a structured workout program that allows clients to exercise on a regular basis under supervision to maximize results.
The Role Of Physical Therapy
Our Physical therapists rehabilitate and educate patients who are hurt and return them to their regular routine, skillfully providing treatment plan designed to correct dysfunctional movement and return Seniors to their previous level of function, inclusive of a daily workout routine to maintain the progress they made during therapy.
Issues With Pain And Mobility
Seniors who struggle with pain, balance, and coordination, and who need rehabilitation are best suited for physical therapy.
Personal trainers are trained to help patients improve their fitness level, not heal injuries or deal with pathology. The danger in relying solely on a personal trainer is if they push a patient too far beyond their limits, there is a risk for injury. There should be a team approach, and we seeing a physical therapist when there’s an existing condition that makes exercise hard. Some preexisting conditions that need to be taken into consideration, extremity asymmetry, gout, or swelling in their knees or other joints that limits normal range of motion. This can also apply to seniors with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s.
It’s A Team Effort
Personal trainers are no replacement for physical therapists and vice versa. However, both have important roles to play in maintaining health as people age.To decide if a patient needs a personal trainer or physical therapist, take into account their fitness level, their health (if their bones or muscles are injured), and their goals (fitness or rehabilitation).When you have an injury, it's always best to see a physical therapist first. Your physical therapist will devise a treatment plan, which may include working with a qualified personal trainer or clinical exercise specialist.
Kenneth Mauck, MPT, MS , Manual Therapy Expert