The Pitfalls of Assessments

hamstring testing

Assessments are an integral part of developing an individualized training plan. Yes, essentially everyone will be doing some variant of a squat, deadlift, push, and a pull exercise. However, being able to pinpoint and improve any mobility issues can go a long way in improving the performance of these essential movements.

Proper movement leads to the ability to lift more weight. The ability to lift more weight leads to greater strength gains. Greater strength gains leads to more weight loss, better athletic performance, and improved quality of living. Basically, getting stronger is likely to be a factor in almost any goal a client wishes to achieve.

Being aware of mobility deficiencies are also important from an injury prevention standpoint. For instance, many people lack the shoulder mobility to do a full overhead press. If a client is unable to perform an overhead press correctly, each repetition will cause the acromion process (the bony process on the scapula) to rub against various structures that pass through that joint. This can lead to a problem known as impingement.

By detecting this lack of mobility in clients, you can then avoid any overhead movements that could lead to injury. You can then program mobility exercises in order to help improve your clients’ mobility issues so that they are able to safely perform the movement in the future.

Assessments are a great tool that trainers can use to improve the overall health and wellbeing of their clients. So, what’s the problem with assessments?

You have to know what you are doing in order to use assessments properly.

This takes time and lots of practice. First, you have to know what you are looking for. You should not need more than fifteen minutes to gain all of the information you need in order to start training someone. Practice as much as you can so the entire process runs smoothly and efficiently.

Second, you have to know how to improve the deficiencies once you have identified them. Once you have identified the problem, you definitely need to know how to solve it in order to provide your clients with any sort of benefit.

How to practice assessments when you don’t have many clients

  • Offer assessments to your family and friends. You get a live human being to practice on. They gain some valuable information into how they might improve the way they move.

  • Watch lots of videos. Youtube is a treasure trove of videos that demonstrate how poorly people move. Watch a few clips of people doing a bad squat and you should have a good idea of common things to look for. It is also important to watch videos of people who are able to perform the exercises correctly to give you a reference point in how it should look.

  • Observe people in your daily life. Watch people while they walk along the street. Note how people stand as you wait in line at the grocery store. Then think about what issues they may have once they hit the gym and start throwing weights around. The more you are able to make these connections, the better you will be at detecting these problems once a client presents themselves to you with these same issues.

Finally, it is important to remember that you should not go beyond the scope of your practice. Understanding a few assessments does not give you the license to diagnose actual medical problems. If you suspect that there could be a more serious underlying issue, it is best to refer out to a more qualified health professional.

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