As defined by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists® (CSCS®) is a professional who applies scientific knowledge to train individuals for the goal of improving performance. You are only eligible to obtain this designation if you are in your last year or have completed a Bachelor’s Degree, and successfully pass a two-part examination of 200 questions. The first part of the exam is scientific foundations, and it includes exercise science and nutrition. The second part of the exam includes exercise technique, program design, testing and evaluation. The last part is the area I find I tend to integrate more into my practice. The pass rate for the exam is only around 55%.
How Do You Incorporate This Specialty into Your Physiotherapy Practice?
This specialty turned into a bit of a passion of mine, which was something I didn’t expect.
I felt that I had a knowledge gap when graduating from Physiotherapy school where although I was very adept at basic rehab based exercises that can be done at home, I didn’t learn as much about how to transition those exercises to a population who wants to improve their deadlift or squat, or regain function and strength in a gym or more athletic setting. A lot of my patients have goals of returning to the gym and getting back to their normal exercise routines and this specialization has given me the tools to make this happen. I am able to find ways to either modify current exercises through movement or position so that my patients don’t have to take time off, or I am able to help them slowly get back to their normal gym routine by appropriately working with them to increase movement ranges and amount of load. Knowing the specific parameters for exercise goals in terms of strength, power, endurance and/or hypertrophy has also allowed me to help focus the exercise repetitions and sets I assign my patients so that I am really working towards our common goal.
What Conditions Benefit from Strength and Conditioning?
I believe that every condition can benefit from strength and conditioning! Strengthening is a fundamental part of most physiotherapy rehabilitation programs. This specialization has just allowed me to expand my exercise knowledge and tools in order to treat my patients according to their individual goals. I have a wide range of exercise options for my patients whether they are gym goers or prefer to do their exercises at home, outdoors or elsewhere. I have strategies that will help my clients return to running after a knee injury, and I can help clients prevent back pain after squatting 250lbs..And everything in between!
What Are Common Strength and Conditioning Errors People Make?
I think the biggest mistakes people make when training are minute movement errors that they aren’t aware of. These small movement dysfunctions end up inhibiting their progress or resulting in tissue irritation and injury. Little tweaks like keeping your ribs down when doing back squats, or making sure you don’t fall into an anterior pelvic tilt when trying to do hip thrusts can be a huge game changer in terms of exercise effectiveness and stress on the joints.
I see a lot of people imitating fitness models and celebrity workouts that can be found on Instagram or through social media. I try to be positive about all forms of exercise. Unfortunately, physios get a bad reputation for cutting out people’s activities and bemoaning crossfit or other exercise platforms. I believe that movement is medicine, exercise is medicine and I’m just happy that my patients enjoy movement. I will do my best to improve my patients form and technique to suit them and prevent injury and only very rarely will I tell my patients to stop what they are doing. But thankfully, I always have other neat exercises that they like better anyway. For instance, I have seen some very strange and elaborate glute workouts that really won’t do much for the glutes!
If you are in the downtown Toronto area and have a nagging injury or concern while working out at the gym or require strength and conditioning training, contact us today and we’ll help you book with the right professional.