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With 2020 just around the corner, now is the perfect time for personal development to enhance your skillset and prepare for the new year.

Looking ahead at the clientele market for PTs, one of the biggest groups will be people aged over 65. A study published in May 2019 from Age UK found that there are currently around 12 million people aged 65 and over in the UK. This figure is only set to increase and, by 2030, one in five people in the UK will be aged 65 or over.

So, as a personal trainer, are you prepared to accommodate this group to make up a large portion of your clientele?

We all know the saying, ‘with age comes wisdom’, but more realistically it should be ‘with age comes wisdom and health problems’. The likelihood of being disabled and/or experiencing multiple chronic and complex health conditions increases with age. To be able to properly support these clients on their fitness journey, you need to understand how various conditions will affect their ability, mobility and mental health.

Our Continued Professional Development courses from our Movement is Medicine section of our online education platform have been tailor made to offer advice and information on some of the most common conditions that the older community are likely to face.

In this blog series, we will show you exclusive snippets from these courses. The first snippet comes from: Sciatica: Symptom or condition? Training for the fitness professional by Cherry Baker.

Are you interested in learning more about Sciatica? Sign-up today to FitPro’s 5-hour online course; Sciatica – Symptom or condition?

Here is a taster of  some of the important, need to know information from the course

Screening your client:

When working with clients who have or have had symptoms of sciatica, the following questions should be added to your client screening form and Par-Q:

Have you had a diagnosis?

By whom and what did they say?

It is important for you to know what the medical professional thinks. It is also important that somebody is aware that the client had symptoms before they came to you. If somebody has sciatica in the foot or any red ag symptoms, avoid working with them until they have the all-clear from their GP. I am aware from my medical friends that someone could have sciatic symptoms in the foot and it may not be a problem; however, as an exercise professional we are not able to diagnose and should err on the side of caution.

Please may I have written permission to chat to them?

I recommend having a pre-printed card with your details on that your client can pass on to their physiotherapist, oste- opath or chiropractor, which they can sign to give permission for you to chat to them. This is not possible with a GP.

What advice have you been given?

Have they been referred to exercise? What guidance or advice have they been given? This allows you to take on board another person’s opinion and advice. For example, have they been told to get up from their desk every hour and do some small back bends? If so, this tells you the person they saw is recommending extension.

What exercises have you been given?

If they have a written sheet, ask them to bring it in. If not, I often ask them to show me the exercise. This allows me to look at the type of exercises they have been given. It also allows me to look at the client’s technique, and if they don’t know the exercise then they have obviously not been doing them. 
It is worth mentioning that, at times, patients are given a sheet of general exercises on presentations of symptoms and while this may be right for some, it may not always be right for everybody. For example, if the sciatica is caused by a disc bulge, it may help to do back extensions into the lumbar spine. However, if the symptom is caused by stenosis, then they would be better to extend only in the thoracic area and to hug one knee at a time into the chest.

Pain: where?

Now and previously.

Numbness: how low, where?

Loss of use: any? 
Refer out.

Bladder/bowel issues? Refer out.

Any worsening symptoms? Refer out.

Are you interested in learning more about Sciatica? Sign-up today to FitPro’s 5-hour online course; ‘Sciatica – Symptom or condition?


Disclaimer: Please note that this information has been taken from an extract of the CPD course, Sciatica – Symptom or condition?. This information should not be used in isolation.





About the Author

Cherry Baker

Osteoporosis and Sciatica for Fitness Professionals

Cherry Baker has been working in the field of fitness for more than 37 years. For the past 20 of these years, she has worked in rehabilitation, getting clients moving again. Cherry hopes to share her experiences from a fitness professional’s point of view. Many clients can’t afford one-to-one or to continue with physiotherapy once they start to recover, so this workshop will be useful, not only for one-to-one clients but in class situations when you can adapt or modify moves to suit a client’s recovery.

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