Corrective Exercise for Personal Trainers and Coaches

the most powerful skills in corrective exercise

The term corrective exercise broadly refers to movements designed to target a problem seen in a person’s physical movement. In our lives, either through our day-to-day work, unbalanced exercise selection in the weight room, lopsided sports activity like golf, tennis or softball, or just plain sitting around too much, muscle groups work at diminished capacity, letting others take over the tasks.

Often, the wrong muscles doing the majority of the work or one side of the body working better than the other will cause a cascade of problems such as back and neck pain. Sometimes the problems have gone on long enough they can’t be fixed without surgery, or can’t be fixed at all, but more often than not, attention on corrective exercise can reverse potential pain, and with surprisingly little effort.

Yet, we all know people who take the idea too far. Sometimes it’s in excessive rehab-type movements, where nothing but the correctives get done. Other times it might be personal trainers or strength coaches stepping a little over the line and into the medical realm.

Quick Link: Corrective Lecture Quotes

Corrective exercise can be a confusing and controversial topic. Some make corrective exercise the ‘be-all and end-all’ of their training programs, never incorporating the other elements that
are needed to make progress.

Others dismiss corrective exercise altogether, thinking it to be ineffective, useless and merely another gimmick that will fade away. Like most things, however, the truth about corrective exercise lies somewhere in the middle.

Quick Link: Corrective Video Clips

We now know habits can wreck havoc on an aging body, and some of you reading this are well aware of a dull ache that’s getting worse, a little pressure building to get your attention. This is surely true of your training clients also.

Quick Link: Corrective Books

Here are a few examples to get you pondering:

  • Shoulder hunched up on one side
  • Head tilted  or rotated
  • Chin lifted, meaning excessive cervical lordosis
  • Pelvic tilted too far in one direction, forward or back
  • Duck foot on one side, or both
  • Resting your weight on one leg, not both
  • Crossing a knee when seated (always the same one), unable to sit with your feet flat
  • Tensing the jaw, grinding the teeth
  • Sucking in the gut, never relaxing the abdominals
  • Resting on your heels or the outsides of your feet
  • Walking on your toes
  • Arms crossed over your chest, shoulders internally rotated
  • Tight hold on the computer mouse when reading a webpage
  • Left foot always leads or right foot always leads, staying a fraction of a second longer on the lead foot each step

Each of those, and probably a hundred others, can add tension to a body, and often cause a cascade of effects up, down or crossing the body, sometimes enough to set the whole configuration askew.

“A lot of people get stuck in ‘the corrective whirlpool.’ Everything gets sucked into it.” ~ Gray Cook

We get what we train. That’s what it boils down to—not just in our workouts but especially in our working and resting postures that take up a lot more of the week than the training. Then we go to the gym and train in faulty positions to strengthen those tilted, rotated, hunched-up structures. This means some of the problems contributing to the trouble are a case of Just Stop Doing That.

To help you weave your way through this corrective maze or to help your clients with corrective needs, we’ve collected some favorite bits from our books, videos and lectures that focus on the topic of corrective exercise.

Lecture tips based on corrective exercise

Video tips referencing correctives

Book corrective excerpts

A few other pages to assist in the endeavor:

Explaining human planes of motion

Human movement terminology cheat sheet

Human anatomy FAQ