Do I need a Physiotherapist or a Personal Trainer?
"But you're like a physio, right?" This article explains the difference between Private Fitness Training and Medical Professionals.
What do the different therapies do?
Who should you see and when?
What should you expect to pay?
Firstly, I think it's important to say that a Personal Trainer is nothing like a Physiotherapist or Chiropractor. The breadth and depth of their medical training far exceeds the average PT's. Many people ask me, "How do I know whether I need medical help or just movement?" and "What sort of help do I need?"
Having worked in the fitness industry for 11+ years, I've built up a few good links to local private Health Care Professionals. We maintain great relationships because we know when to refer to each other. This is key to helping clients for several reasons. It allows for quick response in times of injury, lets us combine our training and exercise regimes for the fastest improvements and gives each professional the opportunity to do what they do best.
Here's a quick rundown on the most popular private healthcare providers, what to expect from them and how much they might cost.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy states "Physiotherapy helps restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability." Physiotherapists are therefore trained to diagnose the reason for your pain and assist with a combination of movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. All Physiotherapy is evidence based and widely available both privately and through the NHS, usually via your GP.
According to the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), chiropractic is "a health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health". Although treatment is mainly centred on the manipulation of the spine, many Chiropractors take a wider and more holistic approach to client welfare. Chiropractors may diagnose certain physical conditions relating to the spine although chiropractic treatment does not have an evidence base to satisfy the NHS with regards to the wider health provisions (nervous system/ general health) advertised by the Chiropractic industry.
The General Osteopathic Council defines Osteopathy as "...a system of diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical conditions. It works with the structure and function of the body, and is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on the skeleton, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together."
There's good evidence that osteopathy is effective in treating persistent lower back pain. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends it as a treatment for this condition. There's limited evidence to suggest it may be effective for some types of neck, shoulder or lower limb pain and recovery after hip or knee operations.
Massage Therapy UK states "the prime purpose of sports massage therapy is to help alleviate the stress and tension which builds up in the body’s soft tissues during physical activity." Sports massage is suitable for most people who enjoy a deep massage. It's fair to say that it's not for the faint hearted!
The National Federation of professional trainers defines them as " a fitness professional involved in exercise prescription and instruction. They motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients."
When can your Fitness Professional diagnose?
We can't. If your muscles are tighter on one side than the other we can point it out and give you correcting exercises. We can't tell you why it's happened. If one side exhibits less strength we can write you a programme to build that strength up. We can't tell you why it's weaker.
Sidebar: I would recommend you query any "fitness professional" who diagnoses pain sites and/or injuries in class or gym environments. Such comments may sound like "Oh, that's sciatica", "it's because you have flat feet/high blood pressure/spondilitis" or "my uncle Jimmy had that and it's because one leg is shorter than the other".
A Fitness Professional's job is to assist you to achieve your particular goals through evidenced based safe and effective exercise and health advice. Our skill is to inspire you to take the action you need.
Who should you see and when?
Many people go by personal recommendations and word of mouth usually wins here. When my clients tell me they're in pain and they don't know why I almost always refer to Physiotherapy in the first instance. If they already have a relationship with a Chiropractor because of a recurring injury, I'll certainly recommend them to take a visit there because I know they'll do that quicker than finding someone new. This is because both professions can deliver a level of diagnosis which is what us Fitness Professionals need to know and be able to work around.
From this tier you may be treated and eventually referred to Osteopathy, Massage or Fitness training to prevent recurrence of a condition or increase flexibility and strength for a more balanced body. You may decide to make regular treatments or exercise sessions a part of your life to ensure you maintain a healthier body.
What should you expect to pay?
This differs across the country but Physiotherapy and Chiropractic care tends to cost £30+ for a 30 minute session. Personal Training, Osteopathy and Massage tend to be £30-£45 for a 45-60 minute session. Personal trainers may charge more if they are to write up a programme afterwards and all will charge for travel. (London prices are, of course, higher.)
All healthcare providers should lay out a clear pathway of treatment so you understand what can be achieved by working with them and have an idea of how long or how many sessions that will take.
Being in pain is no fun so it's important to know where to turn to get speedy help. Why not take a moment today to look up your local private Healthcare and Fitness Professionals. Ask around, take note and remember that prevention is always better than cure.
Enjoy Good Health!