Working with clients can be hard, especially if they are returning from an injury or training with a managed or recurring injury, and knowing how to handle these clients as a Personal Trainer is essential. Lucky for you, Rob Hadley, Australian Institute of Fitness Master Coach has THREE key tips to ensure you manage your injured clients effectively, back to their recovery.
One of the best things you can do before working with them is learn all about the injury and what it means. From a sprained ankle to sore muscles, make sure you understand exactly what is going on. You should research the injury and talk with allied health professionals in order to find out what the signs and symptoms are, as well as what you can do to help.
There are many things to consider, but here are three to note when working with such clients returning from an injury; communicate with treating allied health professionals (AHPs), build up the components of fitness gradually and get feedback from the client (mind and body).
With a client that has had an injury, it is likely (or they should of) that they have seen an AHP, such as a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist. It is important that you find out who this AHP is and work closely with them in order to help your client as much as possible. Things to look for and do include; understanding the provided treatment, client response to treatment, extent and nature of the injury, find out how you can help, seek advice and suggestions, provide updates and progression, discuss if further treatment is warranted and indicate the exercise and treatment you intend to provide.
With any injury (and depending on the extent) a client will lose a certain amount of overall fitness. It will be more specific to the area of concern, e.g. ankle injury, further loss of muscle mass and strength to the region, though due to reduced activity and movement they will also lose cardiovascular endurance and flexibility.
In order to give the client, the best outcomes regarding the rebuilding of the components of fitness, you should aim to work on all areas and slowly build t back up. Avoid trying to go straight back to their pre injury levels, rather outline what you will do and how they will get back to their best! E.g. previously was able to lift 50kg so start with 35kg.
So the client is not worried, make sure you outline the expected timeframes of recovery and when you expect them to be back at pre injury levels. Work on all areas of fitness so nothing suffers!
Gauge what the client is feeling. Listen to their body and their mind! You can use scales (e.g. feeling on a scale of 1-10 or amount of pain on a scale of 1-10). When getting feedback from clients, ensure they understand the scale you are using or the questions you are asking.
If the client is training (with you or alone), ensure that they know when to stop, when to continue or how their body is responding. The reason why you want to understand how they feel in relation to their body and mind, is that you and the client need to know how the body feels and what they think, as you want the two the link together.
One last, but important way, to get feedback is to complete testing or anything recommended by the AHP, pre and during the return from injury. This way you can document the progress the client is making.