How to screen clients

As a Personal Trainer, one of the most important tasks you have is to screen your clients properly. A movement screen is a snapshot of your client's movement and can help you identify imbalances, potential issues in mobility, stability, and strength that you may be able to address with coaching or programming in the future.

Without a screen, you are simply guessing when writing out programs, so it's an essential tool for every trainer.

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Movement Screening Process

There are various movement screening systems available, but our team at PT Core has collected ideas from a few to create a quality and succinct product that will fit perfectly into the first session.

Our screening process includes 7 movements and 4 clearing or breakout assessments to help cover strength, stability, and mobility.

The 7 Essential Movements in Our Screening Process

The seven movements are:
1, Squat - this fundamental movement involves multi-joint strength, mobility, and stability.

2, Hinge - this screen checks if the client can dissociate their knees from their hips while showing spinal stability.}

3, Single leg stance - this will show unilateral stability and mobility.

4, Split squat - this allows us to see the client's isometric stability in the lower body.

5, Horizontal push - another fundamental movement pattern that assesses mainly strength and stability.

6, Overhead reach in two planes of motion - to address any overhead movement that we may perform in the future.

7, Rotary and core stability - to assess the client's stability and mobility in these important areas.
During the first session, we ask new clients to perform these seven movements to give us a good rounded overview of how their joints and body are moving in unison.

It typically takes about 20 minutes, and as you gain more experience, you'll become more confident and efficient.

Traffic Light System for Identifying Movement Quality

We use a simple traffic light system, with green, amber, and red scores, to identify the client's movement quality.

green score indicates a good mover with little to no issues within the movement pattern.

An amber score means that coaching cues to correct the movement pattern didn't work, and we will most likely need to address the issue with our programming and coaching in the future.

A red score indicates that the movement pattern had pain present, and we will need to refer the client out to a medical professional.

Clearing Tests to Gather Further Information About a Particular Joint

We also have four clearing tests to gather further information about a particular joint if needed.

Documenting and recording all this information and being able to pass it on to a medical professional will all add to our client care and better our service, increasing our value as a trainer.

The Joint-by-Joint Approach to Our Screening Process

As you move through the screening process, knowing where to stand to view the best angles to get the best information about a particular joint, issue or exercise is crucial.
We use three views - anterior (front), posterior (back), and lateral (side) - to identify specific joints and motions, and we use a joint-by-joint approach to what we want to see. This helps us understand how each joint performs its main task in the body, either mobility or stability.

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Difference Between a Movement Screen and an Assessment

It's important to note that a screen is no way diagnostic, and it will guide our programming decisions, while an assessment is a diagnostic tool for pain or ROM on one single joint. Assessments can give you a possible single joint reason why a movement may be dysfunctional, but not a full body and movement view of it.

To sum up, screening every client we see gives us a great deal of knowledge about that person and how they move in a very short time. It adds to the professionalism of our product and service, and it informs our programming and helps achieve and create new goals that will help us get to our ideal training.

Free lesson from our PT Core course

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