Working with Clients who have Pre-existing medical conditions
One of the biggest reasons I got into the fitness industry was to help people and part of that was those with pre-existing medical conditions. When I was 14 I broke my femur bone in a jet ski accident and the doctor on staff at the hospital wanted to amputate the leg. But a doctor that was close with the family, rushed into the hospital to fight that decision and was able to insert a rod/bolts into my femur bone. With this surgery my quadricep atrophied and I had to relearn how to walk, run, jump, etc.
The doctor told me I wouldn’t be able to play sports the way I did or lift weights the same way ever again. That is what pushed me to want to help others. The human body is such an incredible organism, we haven’t even touched the surface of what our minds and body are capable of.
When I first got NCSF certified (after going through PFTA), I started working at Fitness 19 in Pflugerville, TX. I met a client after a month or so of working there as a trainer. She wanted to get back in shape and get stronger. She had some obstacles though. She has Lupus (autoimmune disorder) and hardware in her cervical spine from a previous accident.
At the time I didn’t know much about Lupus, but I knew about the functionality of the body and how it worked well in certain leverage points and situations. So I went home and started my research on Lupus. This client gave me the opportunity to work with her and now she is a powerlifter (lifted in numerous meets with many medals and awards) and a bodybuilder (with awards as well on stage).
This situation pushed me to keep building and learning. Years later I met a family that has a daughter who has an immune disorder called “Ehlers Danlos Syndrome” (EDS). Ehlers-Danlos syndrome affects your joints, skin and blood vessel walls; symptoms of EDS may include overly flexible joints (can cause frequent dislocation), and skin that is translucent, elastic, and can easily be bruised. I have worked with two different clients that have been diagnosed with EDS. One of these clients sought a trainer to improve her strength and stability, she had worked with a trainer previously and found they didn’t have the patience/knowledge of her condition to train her effectively. For example, they had her lift weight over her head in a shoulder press and when her shoulder dislocated, it made her sick to her stomach.
Working with clients who have EDS has provided me the opportunity to expand my experience training clients with pre-existing conditions and learn to adapt a workout routine that provides the correct support for my clients as well as actively help them progress to their goals. It has helped me understand how to regress and progress certain movements so that they can work for any type of client.
I have also changed my process in creating a manageable program that gives a client a variety of alternative movements/workouts to achieve the same goals in the end. Then each week or month I would begin to progress the exercises. In the beginning if we lifted over our head, it would be light weight on a machine. But my goal was to strengthen muscles that supported the joints, putting an emphasis on the shoulders and hips.After a few months of working with her, she noticed she wasn’t in as much pain moving around, her joints didn’t dislocate as easy and she was able to actually lift weight over her head. She was able to wrestle with her brother without dislocating her shoulders or joints and on occasion even beat him.
Trainers do not always have all the answers. However, through education and experience with our clients we are able to learn how to adapt our programs to suit their needs. I am still learning more and more everyday through my career as a Personal Trainer and enjoy
passing this knowledge onto the next generation of trainers to come.