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If You Have An Injury, Go To The Doctor Instead Of Making This Common Mistake

by Jenn Zerling, MS, CPT

As a personal trainer, I’ve been asked quite a few personal questions.

“Do you know why my shoulder is hurting?”
“I think I pulled a chest muscle, but the pain is radiating to my armpit, so do you think I tore something?”

Realize that although you may see your trainer more than you might see your best friend or even your spouse, your trainer is still a non-medical person who isn’t qualified to diagnose you, under any circumstance. It’s essential to go to the doctor if you suspect an injury.

Doctor greating patient

So why are you asking us? Why are clients turning to their trainers instead of their doctors for ailments they are dealing with?

After referring the individual out to medical professionals, I always like to ask why they trust me as if I’m a qualified clinician. Here are some common responses I get:

  1. I don’t have a doctor I can call.
  2. My doctor is never available to answer questions like this.
  3. The injury doesn’t warrant a check-up. Perhaps it’s nothing after all!
  4. You are a very smart trainer, so I know you know the answer to my question.

While it’s flattering my clients trust my expertise, I must say that medical questions out of my scope must be handled accordingly.

Why You Need To Utilize Your Doctor

One of my clients had severe pain with any spinal extension exercises. We were doing basic yoga poses that caused him pain. I immediately stopped the session and told him to go to the doctor ASAP or else I won’t train him.

Related: 4 Best Doctors For Chronic Illness

His lumbar discs were severely herniated from many traumas from years ago. If he continued training under these circumstances, he could have risked nerve damage. Because I was stern and he listened, he is back to sports and his back is better than prior to the surgery.

Another client, whom I coach in nutrition only, had severe neck pain that kept him in bed for a day. I instructed him not to train that day, and to see a chiropractor.

He went right away and the release restored his range of motion again. He revisited the chiropractor again a few days later, and his neck pain was completely resolved. He is back to his physical activity.

How To Stay Safe

I have a few simple rules that anyone can follow to play it safe:

1. After an injury, get a check-up.

If you had any sort of trauma to your body, got to the doctor. Do not wait because an acute condition can turn chronic.

Related: How To Stay Injury-Free This Summer

2. Remember: better safe than sorry.

If you have pain that persists for more than a few days that isn’t trauma related, then see a specialist, because the best case scenario is peace of mind.

The worst case scenario is something that needs medical attention, but now is being treated the right way, and in a timely fashion.

3. Do some introducing.

Connect your trainer to your doctor or vice versa. Having a team in place will really help you maximize your potential.

4. Follow your trainer’s advice.

If you trust your trainer and (s)he says go to your doctor, then listen. Do not be stubborn. Listen to the expert.

Related: Top 5 Questions To Ask Your Doctor

The Takeaway

Moral of the story; trust your trainer if (s)he has many years of experience in the fitness industry. No matter what the medical issue may be, a great fitness professional can help you decide what type of specialist to consider calling.

Your trainer can also help you maintain an urgency factor to go to the doctor ASAP. Otherwise, do not confuse a trainer from a doctor. Only doctors can diagnose and treat. Trainers are intended to keep you optimal so that hopefully medical problems do not even occur.

Photo by hang_in_there

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