Recently, a client and I were chatting about his exercise program. He sees me once a week, and does weights at his club 2 days a week. His club had replaced its equipment, and he wanted to make sure one of the machines in particular was okay for his back. “Use really light weight, do just a handful of reps, and see how you feel,” I suggested. Later, when talking with his wife (also a client), she mentioned she was surprised I told him it was okay to use that particular machine.
I have seen the term “kinesiophobia” floating around lately. It means fear of movement. A study was published in April that examined whether physical therapists with kinesiophobic beliefs influenced the ability of healthy people to lift heavy things. Basically, did the beliefs of the expert affect a healthy person’s physical capabilities? It turned out that yes, the physical therapists beliefs negatively impacted the amount of weight the individuals could lift. From a coaching or teaching perspective, what we say matters, and if we believe there should be fear around a particular movement, clients will have fear around that movement. This is not what I want for the people I work with. I encourage them to try things, see how they feel, and make an educated decision based on that. Not all exercises are right for all people; however, people need to be empowered to make those decisions based on their physical structure. This forces people to pay attention to how their bodies feel and allows for a sense of freedom surrounding movement and exercise, rather than fear that all exercise hurts.
*To read the full abstract: http://ptjournal.apta.org/content/early/2015/04/01/ptj.20130194.short