How to Design Workouts and Exercises for Injured Clients


Whether you’re training athletes, general population, or even special population, injuries are something that you will likely encounter during the course of your career as a personal trainer. Injuries are most likely to present themselves at the most unexpected times, and in various shapes or forms. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the road for the client/trainer engagement. At the point where a client does present with pain or symptoms, the first thing a personal trainer must consider is their scope of practise. Managing injury is no small task, and definitely not a task that a trainer should attempt to manage alone. Client retention should be at the forefront of all good trainers’ minds, and client-centric approach should always be maintained when faced with any injury. When managing your client, the first thing you must realise is that rehabilitation is now a top priority. There are several basic steps that you must pass through in order for them to return to full fitness.

Refer Your Injured Client to an Allied Health Professional

No matter what your theory or thoughts on what the injury may be, personal trainers are not a medical professional and diagnosis is outside of our scope of practise. There are multiple benefits in referring your client to an Allied Health Professional (AHP). Firstly, a sufficient diagnosis can be made as a critical first step in your client’s recovery. From this diagnosis and referral, the trainer can receive some vital information that will assist in the client’s management during rehabilitation. This information will include advice and considerations from GPs or physiotherapists on what exercises the client can, or cannot do. This same information will also be crucial in your development of the client’s fitness programming.

Reassess Your Clients Goals

Because injuries can put a major dampener on anybody’s goals, certain aspects of these said goals need to be adjusted. It is a key function of a personal trainer to assist their clients in setting goals, but when a client isn’t fully fit, their goals may no longer be realistic. It’s therefore important to sit your client down, discuss new goals and how you plan to achieve them via the exercises designated by an AHP, so they can return to full training within a desired timeframe.

Manage Your Client’s Expectations

During any rehabilitation phase of training, your client will be undertaking many exercises that focus heavily on rehabilitation rather than strength and weight loss. When confronted with this scenario, many clients may not wish to swallow what can be a bitter pill as your prescribed exercises generally wont yield weight loss or strength gain in the short term. To avoid the risk of having your client aggravate their condition, or re-injure themselves in a way that leads them to not being able to train at all, it once again falls back onto the personal trainer to reassure the client of their goals. You can achieve this by creating some realistic expectations and clearly explaining why certain exercises have been placed within their workouts.

Maintaining Client Motivation During Rehabilitation

It’s easy to remain focused on goals when the numbers on the scales are dropping at an exciting rate, but training a client while they’re hurt is certainly not a time to get carried away. And, while rehabilitation exercises might not be glamorous or interesting, their importance cannot be understated. To ensure that your client doesn’t lose motivation during this period, it’s your role as a trainer to routinely track results while introducing fresh stimulus to the workouts. While you might be limited to what exercises might be at your disposal, it certainly doesn’t mean the workouts won’t be challenging. To keep your workouts stimulating and challenging, add some variety to your routine, change the workout environment by training outdoors or even experimenting with different training protocols.

Injuries certainly don’t have to spell time out of training for your clients. Just ensure that you remain within your scope of practise and consult with preferred AHP for advice on prescribing any exercises. Don’t forget to reassess your client’s goals and set up some reasonable expectations while keeping motivation levels high via some suitably challenging workouts.

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