By Dean Quirke
As a trainer your aim is to fulfil the needs of your client through correct exercise perscription and guidance, that will help you to enhance their movement and overall function.
This article is designed to help you to identify some of the movement challenges presented to you by your clients and to give you some creative tools and strategies for developing a correct and safe training plan.
Identifying Movement Limitations through Screening
Prior to starting a personal training session with a client, it is important to observe and assess any movement limitations that they may have.
Developing a systematic approach to screening clients through movement and determining the limitations that a specific joint complex may have in relation to the acceptable ranges, will help to create a corective strategy and training plan.
Understanding How We Move
Interestingly we may refer to a client’s movement goals, exercise history and biomechanical abilities before we make the assumption of how an individual moves.
To get a greater understanding of human beings, we must be aware of how the body moves in a three dimensional space.
Triangulation is a concept patented by Physical Therapist Gary Gray.
This refers to movement within a three dimensional space which creates three aspects of motion – Tri – and the angulations which are:
- Direction. Refers to the Plane of Motion i.e. Sagittal (forward and back), Frontal (side to side) and Transverse (rotational).
- Height. Refers to the movement created either from the ground, the base of an object or from directly above. For example when a client is performing a balance reach with the arm as the driver, we can give the instruction of reaching “knee height”, chest height”, shoulder height”, or “above head height”.
- Distance. Refers to how far away from the base the movement is.
How to Identify A Client’s “Real” Movement
During my ealier days as a personal trainer I was so focused on emphasising correct posture, alignment and learned cueing, that I sometimes missed what the “Real” movement was.
Real movements are typically movements that we don’t think about, we just do them. Examples of Real movements could be:
- Bending down to tie a shoelace
- Opening a door
So in relating this to your session, the way to identify a client’s Real movement is to do this subconciously.
How to Achieve A Desired Movement Subconsciously
To achieve a desired movement subconciously with a client, we can employ the use of an external objective.
Example 1 – The Lunge
While asking a client to perform a lunge you may notice that the client is showing limited right hip adduction. This may draw you to ‘consciously’ cue more hip adduction.
However beware – this strategy could potentially lead to more compensatory patterns developing. Why? Because the focus of performing a lunge is drawn solely on adducting the hip, the surrounding joints and movement may be affected when intense focus is placed on correcting the imbalance.
Instead, you could invite the client to perform the same anterior lunge however this time – rather than mentioning the adduction of the right hip – instead give them an external objective to focus on.
For example instruct them to drive the right hand, left and laterally over the head to address the right hip imbalance.
Other objectives could also be employed if your client presented a multitude of imbalances.
Example 2 – The Squat
Another example we could look at is the Squat, possibly the most talked about and written about exercise in the industry.
Initially when you ask a client to perform a squat, observation takes place with the client’s range of motion and execution of the exercise.
The client may present limitations in the range of movement in the ankle and hip complex. Commonly these may be represented by a heel lift and excessive forward lean. Naturally “conscious” cueing is considered to address these imbalances by asking the client to “maintain a lift through the chest”, or by reducing the depth of the squat, just to name a couple.
Another option to consider is to employ an external objective for the client to focus on.
For example when the client is performing the squat, ask them to reach with two hands anteriorly at a verticality of chest height with a distance of full range.
The client initiates the squat with their arms in this position, lowering into the squat until their arms come in contact with a dowel rod that will be holding below their outstretched arms. This way you can control the quality, depth and success of the squat executed.
There are many reasons why a subconcious strategy is of benefit when screening and training your client, but for me I have found that the carry-over from a subconscious level into normal movement has been instant and long lasting.
Clients have shown improvements in decreasing pain, functional limitations and sporting performance. Interestingly enough, it also provides the trainer with a blank canvas on which to become creative with their program design.
So good luck and have fun getting creative!
- Gary G & Tiberio Fuctional Video Digest
- Myers T.(2004) Anatomy Trains Churchill Livingstone
Dean is a NLP & Transformational Coach, CHEK Exercise Coach, GRAVITYPost-rehab Trainer and specialises in corrective exercise, injury prevention, weight management and special populations. Based out of Sydney, Dean’s passions lie within Movement and Rehabilitation, which has led him on an incredible journey of self discovery and education. Having sought out some of the foreward thinkers and innovative educators of our time, he has discovered that there is great need and a requirement to be open-minded and adaptable in order to be successful in this field. Dean likes to work with people that want to improve their lives on all levels but are just missing the one thing to make it happen…the tools! Getting results in a structured progressive manner is the key to his success.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw