Is there a doctor in the house? What is your job and what is not your job?
Well, I thought I’d be writing an article on something completely different today, but I will share that with you next time. It has become more and more obvious to me that we need to discuss Scope of Practice. I know, I know…it sounds boring…but, as usual, I will attempt to make it a non-boring subject! Let’s go!
What is your job? Really. As a Pilates teacher, what is your job? What are you?
You are a personal fitness trainer.
A personal trainer of an extremely refined “phylum” of exercise.
You are not a physiotherapist (unless you’re trained as one).
You are not a massage therapist (unless you’re trained as one).
You are not a psychotherapist (unless you’re trained as one).
You are an exercise trainer in the modality of Pilates. Whatever style of Pilates.
You are extremely valuable in that role. Pilates proves itself over and over to be a very good form of exercise, especially when applying a quality education in functional anatomy/kinesiology to the movements/actions/exercises.
Physical activity/exercise is essential to the health of any human being.
You are valuable by encouraging healthy physical activity.
(Why is Shari saying this like that? What’s she getting at?)
It seems that both clients and Pilates teachers are starting to think that a Pilates teacher is something other than a high-end and very specialized exercise trainer. Just because we craft our sessions for the person in front of us; just because we can work around nearly all injuries and ailments; just because Pilates can often support a person’s system so well that healing occurs when nothing else seems to work…this does not mean that you bear the responsibility for fixing anyone.
Let’s make that clear: Your job is to exercise people working around their injury or ailment. Not into it. You do not fix or heal anyone. Hopefully, the work you do creates an environment (simply by providing a safe place for movement) that allows this person to be more healthy as an organism and that supports the opportunity for healing in an ailing area or system. You do not fix or heal people.
Why Pilates (and other movement modalities) seems to make this possible…?
That’s another article all together and the focus of my life’s work. (Join me in The Vertical Workshop Pilates Teacher Intensives or stay tuned for many more things…)
For the moment, let’s stick to this.
It seems as though Pilates teachers are feeling a lot of pressure to cure ailments. Your client has osteonecrosis in her knee. I see people all of social media forums asking what to do. I get emails asking what to do. I’ll tell you what to do: Work around that knee. Only do movements, exercises, ranges of motion (ROM) that will not even spark a bit of pain. Strengthen the rest of the body and work around that knee. Pick what exercises, versions of exercises, physical set ups and settings on apparatus to make sure that poor knee doesn’t have a negative experience at all. Choose wisely what to do and what not to do.
And that means you do not tell your client that you can “fix” her knee. You will not use Pilates to help heal that knee. You might say “Because in Pilates we work around your ailing joint, avoiding it at all costs, and strengthen the rest of your body so well, it appears that your body will have a better chance at healing itself.” You see…your client will heal herself. Or she’ll get an operation or go to physiotherapy or get an injection or live with the pain. But you cannot claim that Pilates is going to fix her.
Let’s play out another scenario:
Your client comes to you with a rotator cuff tear. Whether this is a new client or a client you’ve been working with for some time what do you do?
Right. You avoid that shoulder girdle and shoulder joint in the workout. You find out what ROM of the arm this client has where there is no pain and work within the parameters of…no pain. Indeed, you ask if he has gone to the doctor, physio, etc. You ask if he is getting any treatment and doing any other exercise. Then you create a workout that works around that area. Is it going to be a lot of legs and lower torso exercises? Sure. Not ideal and imbalanced? Sure. And that has to be OK. Do you go in and try to teach this person good shoulder girdle mechanics? Not if the shoulder is injured and in pain. When this person is healed up enough to mobilize his shoulder girdle, then you can address the shoulder girdle mechanics, but…just avoid the area at first. Your job is to give this person a workout working around the area of injury.
It’s tempting, I know it is! It’s tempting to try to heal this person. However, you simply do not have the qualifications for it AND AND AND…it appears that very often just working around a joint really does help a person heal! I mean it! It’s holistic.
Now, the thing is, the Pilates teacher community is one of the most wonderfully giving groups around. We just want to help! We feel so deeply for our clients and want people to feel good…but the pressure that I see building up in the community is unnecessary and damaging. Release yourself from this pressure. It’s not your job to fix people. It’s your job to give them amazing exercise around their ailment so that they can perhaps heal themselves…which is better than you trying to fix them.
I will strongly encourage you to learn about each ailment your clients come to you with. You must educate yourself on whatever they bring your way. Why? So that you can figure out how to work around it. One way to learn? Google. Yes, our good friend Google. Then you have to be wise about what you’re reading when you search an ailment. Please just learn about the pathology. The anatomy of the ailment. Great websites for lay-people webmd.com: http//www.webmd.com
National Library of Medicine: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/medlineplus.html
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-care-and-health-information
Learn about the ailment or injury, take the pressure off of yourself and work around ailments.
Your job as a Pilates teacher is amazing! You are good enough and great enough doing what you do as a very high-end specialized personal trainer. You train people’s bodies to strengthen and heal themselves! Goodness! Pilates teachers are great!
***Do you need help figuring out how to work around different parts of the body or ailments? Reach out to me! I will teach you! I’ll share my tried and true, well-worked guidelines of how to educate yourself and work around anything! (That’s what my Injuries, Ailments and Imbalances as well as my Mysterious Aches and Pains workshops are all about.) We can work in workshops or private workshops on Skype or video conference. I’m glad to help.
Any questions? Just ask!
****Thank you for having taken he time to read this article and I hope it encourages you to move forward in your teaching and practice in this stunning way!
If you have any questions at all or want to share your thoughts in the comment section, please do!
****Workshops: Please view the workshop list in the side column/bar. I hope to see you soon!
****Skype Sessions: Let’s work together no matter where we both are! I teach Skype sessions all over the world each week! Email me to set up a session! info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com
****Consultation: Are there clients you’d like to discuss? Issues in the Pilates studio of any sort: Pilates exercises, biomechanics, teacher dynamics, teaching tools…anything else? We simply set up a Skype appointment and work together! Again, email me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com
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