Though personal training and physical therapy are two very different specialties, there is some overlap when it comes to helping clients improve their mobility. To better serve ZenRock’s clientele in achieving their fitness and overall wellness goals, our team recently sat down with Shawn Brenneman of Lake Washington Physical Therapy to discuss how to integrate a more functional approach to personal training. This means that prior to performing specific exercises and more strenuous physical activity that you may want to work on, your trainer may first assess your ability to hold postures or do certain movements to determine what needs to be corrected.
A key point that Shawn and the trainers talked about was postural dysfunction, which he says is most common through the thoracic spine. If you ever experience ongoing pain in your neck, shoulders, or low back, postural dysfunction may be to blame. It is the result of prolonged postures or positions that can negatively affect joint surfaces, muscles, or tendons. Shawn emphasized that eye position is important in a posture assessment and showed how movements of the eyes first will dictate the flow of other parts of the body regardless of which direction you are moving or rotating.
The trainers also talked about helping clients to release tension, activate their muscles, and get better rotation by doing lateral extensions, utilizing the foam roller, and incorporating weighted balls. Shawn explained that not all sensations of tension are muscle tension, but instead neurologic restrictions. For example, this may be the case if you think you have tight hamstrings and experience pain behind the knee. He demonstrated how to identify this by laying on your back with one leg straight in the air and moving your head on and off the ground to see if you feel that tension on the backside of your knee. If you do, please talk to your trainer about the best way to address this problem. Everyone has a unique body structure, and some movements may work better for you than what you see others doing.
As you and your trainer find your mobility strengths and weaknesses, there is one thing that is needed from you to see results and feel better – commitment. The same is true with physical therapy. You must be committed to do the work. Focusing on one exercise at a time when you are on your own at home our outside in our beautiful Pacific Northwest environment will help to keep you on track and committed. An easy way to remember to do your exercises is through habit stacking. If you already have a formed, daily habit that you perform (i.e., brushing your teeth), doing the exercise either right before or right after will help you to remember to do it and keep you accountable.
We encourage all our clients to talk to their personal trainer about any mobility or posture concerns they may have and how to address them. If you feel you need to additional support from a physical therapist, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Shawn Brenneman via email or by calling (425) 636-8369.