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Physical Therapy versus Personal Training: Key Differences and What’s Best for Your Child

Let me start by explaining what a physical therapist and a personal trainer do and who they can help.

Who is a physical therapist?physical therapy or personal training for your child

A physical therapist is a board certified movement expert. They analyze abnormal movement patterns and, through tests and measures, determine what impairments are causing those patterns. Physical therapists may use a combination of manual therapy, neuromuscular re-education, modalities, and exercises to address those impairments and improve function.

Who is a personal trainer?

The American College of Sports Medicine defines a ACSM certified personal trainer as a person who “is qualified to plan and implement exercise programs for healthy individuals or those who have medical clearance to exercise.”[1] They give advice on general health and wellness tips, personalizing it to each client. Personal trainers may also help you progress your exercise routine.

Which is right for you?

Now that we know what each is and what they do, who is best suited to help you? Well, it depends. If you are a healthy individual who has been cleared for exercise, a personal trainer can help you stick to and progress an exercise plan. When you have a physical impairment that is affecting your function, head to a physical therapist to receive treatment.

While physical therapy may be what’s best for your child at one point in his life, this may change over time. I know many physical therapists that may discharge a child from their care due to completion of goals and return to function, but who recommend continued exercises to maintain those goals. A personal trainer may be helpful at this time to follow through with these recommendations.  Transitioning from physical therapy services to a personal trainer too early can result in return of impairment or injury.

Please consult with a health care professional prior to change in care.

NSPT offers physical therapy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Resources: [1] ACSM webpage. “http://certification.acsm.org/acsm-certified-personal-trainer. “ Accessed on 2/1/2015.