As a fitness professional, you are highly likely to work with clients
who have chronic and/or recurring pain. These clients need to be cleared
for exercise by their physician. When they come to you, they will
probably have completed or be currently involved with treatment from a
licensed medical provider such as a physical therapist or chiropractor.
You must remain within your scope of practice at all times and avoid any
attempts to treat or diagnose pathological conditions or to provide
To best assist clients who are
experiencing chronic pain, you need to understand the bio-psycho-social
paradigm and what that means in relation to program design,
communication and expectations.
Chronic pain can have a global effect, creating stress in many of the body’s systems.
The following list from Exercise is Medicine® Australia offers insight into what
clients with chronic pain deal with on a daily basis.
- increased attention to the painful area over other areas
of the body
- decreased activity levels and decreased tolerance for
- “glitches” in the nervous system and brain that worsen
sensations of pain in other areas of the body
- depressed mood, increased anxiety and more feelings
- depressed immune system
- guarded, compensatory and poorly coordinated
- heightened stress response
- an inability to relax, poor concentration and memory,
and disturbed sleep
Source: Exercise is Medicine Australia 2014.
To read more about understanding the biological, psychological and social ramifications of pain, please see “The Many Dimensions of Pain” in the online IDEA Library or in the February 2016 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.