Don’t Make This Common Personal Training Mistake

Niki shares the reason she takes range of motion measurements before working with a new client


There are so many reasons to take ROM measurements before working with a client. We’ll start with a story about my first on-the-job injury. I was in my early twenties and had just graduated from college, where I had run cross country and track and field. I naturally attracted runners for clients. The problem was that in my head, I had assigned recreational runners of all ages to a category we’ll call “Invincible Athletes.” Because my clients were disciplined humans and willing to sweat, I mistakenly decided to push them. Of course, they loved being beat up on. I had them doing the same drills I did in college. It was all fun until one day I had one of my 50-year-old, seated-at-a-desk-all-day runner clients doing a dynamic stretch lateral drill…and pop, he tore his adductor. I immediately realized that it was my fault. I felt so much shame for not considering his flexibility before exposing him to an exercise that would cause a muscle tear.

The point is that we as personal trainers are responsible for knowing better.

 A study in Orthopedic Review found that the most common injuries seen by personal trainers during sessions were lumbar muscle strain (10.7%), rotator cuff tear/tendonitis (8.9%), shin splints (8.1%), ankle sprain (7.5%), and cervical muscle strain (7.4%).

We must realize that every stretch and exercise we recommend will either push someone toward alignment or push them a little bit closer to injury. Every action counts.

We never know which stretch or exercise will be the straw that broke the camel’s back. And trust me, you don’t want the weight of it being the stretch or exercise you assigned.

I understand that taking range of motion measurements and designing smart programs doesn’t give you immunity from injury. But it does give you facts to base your decisions off. Informed decisions are better than guesstimates—no one will argue with that.

Niki Driscoll