A personal trainer and a physiotherapist are not the same thing.

In the simplest terms, physiotherapists are focused on the medical and health needs of your body, while a personal trainer is more concerned about general benefits of exercise and muscle-building.

Physiotherapy & Personal Training

Physiotherapists go through a university degree training program and must pass a national exam to become a regulated physiotherapist. They have specific training in some key medical areas, including musculoskeletal problems, treatment and management of specific medical issues such as those affecting cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, as well as neurological healing rehabilitation.

While musculoskeletal is a key common area, physiotherapists can also specialize in specific areas such as sports physio or even paediatric physiotherapy.

Physiotherapists focus on these medical ailments, and helpthe body strengthen as it heals. In the common treatment of musculoskeletal issues, physiotherapists will employ specific physical therapy techniques such as manipulating and stretching out problem muscles to reduce medical symptoms. They can also use acupuncture, trigger point release and other therapy techniques that are medically appropriate.

In short, physiotherapists are largely concerned with the treatment of short-term medical injuries causing acute pain and impacting mobility and general functioning. They can also help you with longer term improvements, again focusing on improving mobility to give you a better quality of life with less movement issues and pain.

Unlike personal trainers, physiotherapists will target in on a problematic area. Think of physiotherapists as those who step in after you undergo a major medical issue affecting your body’s range of motion.

If you’ve just been through a medical operation, suffered a major illness or disease, or have been involved in a car accident, the physiotherapist is there for you once you’re released from hospital or primary care treatment. They’re the next step in the medical process of healing, and have training to specifically help with main medical concerns, such as musculoskeletal impairments.

Personal training, in contrast, is less rigorous in its training requirements, requiring a certificate, and is focused on general health rather than specific medical issues.In some areas of Canada, the need to have that certificate is waived as long as they complete an in-house training program at the place in which they’ll be employed. A good way to compare the two is to think of the personal trainer as someone who works in the fitness industry, while physiotherapists are part of the medical profession.


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