Personal training is useful for people who want to get the most out of their workouts. But for people with chronic pain, personal training has to be modified. For personal trainers and those in similar professions, seeing the joy on someone’s face when they overcome a challenge through effort is an incredible feeling. The last thing any compassionate trainer or therapist wants is to see their client undergoing extreme pain. However, when dealing with a customer who suffers from chronic pain, there is not only much to consider, your patience and understanding are often tested.
Chronic pain comes in many forms. From diseases to nagging injuries and other mental and physical ailments, each you meet has their unique suffering. One client’s pain threshold or tolerance should not dictate the level of expectations you have for another. Not only does training clients with chronic pain require you to study up on their condition, but you also need to understand the contraindications that may stem from their issue. Another obstacle that may arise is their emotional anguish.
Personal trainers know that they don’t merely fill the role of drill sergeant. Often, a client needs more than a spotter; they need a guide, a counselor, and a listener. Because of this, you can play a pivotal role in soothing their chronic pain; but again, this requires more than knowledge of how to deadlift.
Personal Training for Chronic Pain Sufferers
Practice patience. Clients who experience chronic pain will often be afraid of doing too much or getting injured. The first couple of sessions might be frustrating for the both of you, especially if the client has no knowledge about fitness. Don’t overload them with too much information or too many exercises. Keep it simple. Also, be aware of any contraindications that come with their disorder or medication.
Teach mindfulness. No matter what kind of workout you like to do, you are no doubt aware of the mind-body connection. Those experiencing chronic pain have no lack of this regard. In fact, you might discover that these individuals are hyper aware of the places where the pain accrues. Ask about their pains, how often it occurs, and then adjust their program to bring their focus elsewhere. This can be made possible through disciplines like yoga, qi gong, Pilates and other therapeutic movements.
Don’t judge. Chronic pain changes how a person views the world. Your client might have adopted negative feelings towards themselves that come out during the workout. Listen to their grievances, but don’t try to judge or fix the problem right there. Instead, encourage active conversation. Bring their thoughts to what they are capable of or any improvements that you have noted.
Everyone experiences pain. When personal training a client with diseases and disorders that cause chronic pain, be patient, non-judgemental and promote mindfulness. Together, you can create a rewarding fitness program and watch someone grow beyond the pain.