Don’t play Doctor (Aka Chris is Back!)

Yes, It has indeed been a long time since I’ve posted any blogs here on MyTrainerChris.

Over the past four months I’ve been to the StrongFirst Level 1 coaches certification, grown the Trainers Dojo network to more than 150 members worldwide including Ireland,Korea,Malaysia,Italy,Australia,Canada,Brazil and Taiwan as well as across the USA,taken on a role as a trainer of trainers, have been found by a new mentor/coach that has tremendously impacted my performance, moved to a new gym location that worked out better than I could have ever hoped and have been exploring the idea of creating a fitness professionals summit here in Las Vegas.

But those are all topics for another day, Today’s blog is on Trainers that Play Doctor and how trainer should be referring out when situations call for it.

For trainers working with the general public just getting started in training, I present the following suggestions and the perspectives of a 25 year veteran of BroScience. (P.S. In this case BroScience is not a negative term, please read on.)

1. Know when to refer out.
PT/DC/MD/OT or LMT. The safe answer is always refer the client to their primary care physician.  I have an admitted bias towards a PT as I believe they do a better job at screening and diagnosing musculoskeletal issues. Not all states or countries allow direct access to PT’s and they must be referred by an MD. Chiropractors on the other hand are often a walk-in service in many places.

Beyond musculoskeletal injuries I refer them to their primary care provider and let the Dr Order the blood panels and refer to whoever best fits the role.

With obese (over 300lb non-athlete) beginners I follow another coaches advice and suggest the Primary Dr, an Optometrist and a dentist.

Self bias here, ideally the professional is, or was an athlete.

2. Do your homework.
Read and learn things from books and articles you can’t buy from a newsstand.

Sorry, but Muscle and Fitness,Livestrong and Shape Magazine are not go-to resources here. Your NASM CES or FMS certifications, although both being excellent educations, are seriously just skimming the surface and are entry points to higher education.

3. Have at least the minimum minimum knowledge.
Have at least a lay understanding of the basic injury so you don’t sound like a total dumbass when speaking with an allied health professional.

There is a distinct set of lanes here, you and the allied health professionals are not fellows of the same occupation, so don’t act like you are or think otherwise.

You know you hate it when the cardio bunny or morbidly obese MD tries telling you squats are dangerous, toes need to always be pointed straight forward and to never NEVER go below parallel in the squat when they’ve never lifted anything heavier than themselves or a 5lb pink dumbbell.

4. Pause,Think,Pause,Speak
You must have at least a basic command of BroScience. Specifically how to separate fact from fiction.

Knowing things such as the fact that Pilates does not actually lengthen muscles, dumbbell pullovers do not actually expand the rib cage and weightlifting does not turn women into bearded men or kids into midget adults will help keep you from sounding like said aforementioned dumbass.

5. Details matter.
Start learning what things are likely important based on the issue rather than leaving
someone the task of teasing out the details. As best possible, try getting all known relevant facts together based on current research from credible sources. Saying “My client has shoulder pain” could be any number of things from the client being a wussy weakling thats feeling a little muscle fatigue to having bone cancer.

6. It seems to work
While not entirely useless, anecdotal evidence and even some case studies do not make for the greatest evidence.

7.  F your N=1
Just something worked for you personally,or some guy you knew, doesn’t mean it works for all.

I’m not sure if the scale is tilting towards trainer arrogance or ignorance here, but neither side is good.

8. Know the Credible Sources
Locate the best available  evidence/research to aid and support your decisions.

Fact: This isn’t to going be found on Dr. Oz, FoodBabe, Wikipedia,Tracy Anderson or your BeachBody coach. As matter of fact, I consider NONE of the MLM supplement sellers to be credible sources as a matter of principle and professional ethics.  They MIGHT BE RIGHT and be otherwise fine trainers (there I said it), BUT part of me will always view them as selling products of questionable value at a marked up price (there I said that too.)

9. Stay in your lane.
Fact: Some trainers lanes are a mile wide and an inch deep, others are an inch wide and an inch deep  Let that sink in for a minute.

Trainers, saying “I don’t know” are not bad words and they don’t make you a bad trainer.  Unless of course that’s the only thing that comes out your mouth. That said, I would far rather hear “I don’t know” than listen to you try to BS your way into or out of a situation.No trainer knows it all, no matter how many letters are after their name.

Opinion: Based on a lengthy history around many trainers I’m of the belief a high number are working way outside their depth.  A combination of flawed or outdated academic knowledge and little if any practical experience leads me to this opinion.

I applaud the eagerness to help, but re-centering and training to ones ability needs to happen. If you are ill equipped or lack the experience to safely work with a person presenting a given condition/complication now is not the time to play Dr. Trainer.

Refer to someone who does. Referring out makes you a better trainer and is the professional thing to do.

“If the client gets hurt in training its YOUR FAULT”



One thought on “Don’t play Doctor (Aka Chris is Back!)

  1. James

    Wow! Hit the nail on the head Chris enjoyed reading a well thought out piece. Makes us all think about how we do things and how we can become better at navigating the waters in our own stream or river


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s