The final installment! Make sure you check out parts 1 & 2!
We’ve all probably had to work with a physical therapist at some point in our lives. When it comes to recovering from an injury, prepping for surgery, and/or recovering from surgery, it is almost guaranteed that you’ll spend time doing PT. They are specifically trained to deal with injuries, and to help a patient go from a lack of competence to functionality. A few things stand in the way of this becoming a “perfect” solution, including stubborn insurance policies and old protocols, but for the most part, I’m a big believer in this profession. Injuries happen, even to the most conditioned athletes who follow the best strength programs, and when they do, a competent physical therapist is often the one to get a sidelined kid back to the weight room. Notice, I didn’t say back to the field. And herein lies the dilemma: When does the SC coach step aside and let a PT handle the athlete? When does a PT step aside and let the strength coach take over? Are PTs qualified to do both?
This is going to be the BEST example I can give, ready? The physical therapist / strength coach relationship is like gay marriage in this country: recognized by a few states, criticized in others, a hot topic for the whole nation and misunderstood by just about everyone.
The marriage between a PT & a strength coach needs to be recognized by the fitness industry as a whole because it is IMPERATIVE that these two entities work together and stop trying to do each other’s jobs. Physical therapists – you’re awesome. You make my life easier because if a kid does get injured, you’re the one that has to deal with it, and do the boring stuff for me. Is it extremely important? YES – I just don’t have the patience for it. You get them back to function, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. Once the kid surpasses their PT tenure, it is time for me to take over and get them stronger & back into “game shape”. I won’t try to diagnose injuries, and you won’t try to teach them how to Olympic lift, deal?
In some cases, PT’s will do outside work above and beyond their formal education. They will have weight room/coaching experience and have their CSCS (or some other combination of obnoxious letters) entitling them to train clients as well. Is this possible? Definitely, depending on the circumstances. If a PT typically only works with athletes, then it makes sense to be able to fill in the gaps in training before sending the kid back to their coach. I still believe in sending them back to a strength coach for evaluation, however, simply because it is impossible to be everything to everyone. You’ve heard of getting a second opinion from a doctor, right? Well, why not have a second opinion about an athlete’s recoverability before they hit the field too soon and end up sidelined again? It just makes sense. In an ideal world, there will be an in-house strength coach in most PT clinics, or a few coaches in the network, to avoid this kind of “crossover” effect.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where people are annoying, physical therapists are afraid of lifting weights, and strength coaches are just big dumb jocks. JK – but really. The thing I’m most jealous about when it comes to the PT profession is how regulated their standards are. They have to go to grad school, they HAVE to pass boards, and they have to be licensed. It is all so strict – and yet, they are dealing with patients that are ALREADY injured. Why is it that the coaches, trainers, and other clowns that come in contact with perfectly healthy people aren’t forced to go through the same training? The risk is so much higher – but there’s no regulation. Does this make any sense?? (everyone shout NO). SMH. I wouldn’t mind being forced to go through all of that, simply because I love what I do. I’m already putting myself through standards that aren’t necessary because I feel like it’s the way it SHOULD be done – and I want others to follow my example. Don’t settle for mediocrity EVER.
That’s it for my time on the soapbox. I hope this has shed some light on the fitness industry for those that aren’t really familiar. So the next time someone asks me what I want to do, I’m just going to pick them up, press them over my head, and say: “Teach athletes how to do THIS”