“What is a Medical Exercise Specialist?”
It’s a good question and one I get often, because the profession itself is relatively new in the Healthcare continuum.
An MES, as we are known, goes through a rigorous training and certification process to effectively and safely deliver exercise programs for clients with specific medical conditions.
Conditions may be orthopedic in nature, such as post- spinal surgery and post joint replacement, neurological in nature such as post-stroke and Parkinson’s Disease, or metabolic in nature such as diabetes and high blood pressure. In general, an MES will choose to specialize in one of these particular fields.
To be clear, MES’s do not medically diagnose nor do they medically treat patients, instead they assess a client’s ability to move and perform basic movement patterns, then select appropriate exercise programing based on the individual’s needs, medical limitations and ability.
The chief aim of a Medical Exercise Specialist is to:
- improve the quality and efficiency of movement
- reduce pain and limitation and
- restore function to the individual so that they can enjoy a more active lifestyle.
In a nut shell, an MES bridges the gap between healthcare and physical fitness.
The most commonly asked questions that we hear about MES include:
How is Medical Exercise different than Personal Training?
Most personal trainers are comfortable working with people who have common metabolic medical challenges such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and many may go as far as to address balance challenges, which often accompany aging.
Few trainers are prepared to address neurological conditions such the post-stroke client or the Parkinson’s Disease client, or orthopedic conditions such as post joint surgery or post spine surgery.
Re-Kinect focuses primarily on orthopedic conditions, especially back or neck pain after injury or surgery. In addition, we recently added a practitioner who is specializing in neurological conditions, including post-stroke and Parkinson’s Disease. Our practice takes it one step further, not only because of our training, but also the updates, the dialogue and continuing education we engage in with our referring medical professionals such as neurologists, physical therapists, and psychiatrists.
Are all Medical Exercise Specialists the same?
The short answer is no.
An MES certification is now offered through several organizations and not all have the same standards. The organization we chose to use is the Medical Exercise Training Institute – the training body for the American Association of Health, Fitness, and Rehab Professionals. Re-Kinect practitioners have additional requirements beyond the MES which I will explain below.
What does it take to be a Medical Exercise Specialist at Re-Kinect?
MES’s at Re-Kinect come from a variety of backgrounds in the fitness and exercise world. All have completed the Medical Exercise Training Institute’s Medical Exercise Specialist Program, a curriculum created by Physical Therapist Dr. Mike Jones for the purpose of preparing fitness and exercise professionals to work with a post-rehab and medical population. The curriculum includes pathology, clinical anatomy, and exercise prescription and progression for over 60 medical conditions.
In addition to earning the MES certification, Re-Kinect practitioners are required to complete an additional 400-hour internship at Re-Kinect under the direct supervision of Exercise Physiologist Amanda Harris, a 100-hour internship at select local Physical Therapy practices, and 100 hours a year of continuing education and/ or shadowing at a Physical Therapy or Manual Medicine practice.
What is the MES experience at Re-Kinect?
Many of our clients come to us with chronic back or neck pain, stemming from various diagnoses. Among the many tools we use to address these challenges is RedCord, a suspension exercise system that provides an ideal environment for clients who struggle with pain and limitation to restore muscle stability and pain-free control of functional (weight-bearing) movement patterns. RedCord is also embraced by the medical community, and here is an article on why I chose to use it.
RedCord goes hand-in-hand with our MES training to create the perfect bridge between good rehabilitative care and more vigorous activity because it allows the MES to meet the client where they are after discharge from Physical Therapy. Exercises can be appropriately regressed to avoid pain and compensation, and gradually build stability and strength. Eventually you can enjoy more vigorous activity, whether that includes sport, fitness, or keeping up with the grandkids.
In addition, Re-Kinect practitioners use simple equipment such as elastic bands, balls and hand weights, especially for home exercise programs. What you won’t see here is circuit training equipment because seated exercise does not transfer to most activities we encounter every day. To enjoy moving again, your body needs to be able to support its own weight as you walk, run, push, pull and carry in everyday life, or in sport.
Does Re-Kinect offer anything for people with non-medical needs?
On any given day at Re-Kinect, you encounter someone working on stability and strength after surgery, or someone with Parkinson’s Disease working on coordination and balance. But we also work with people who want to get back to running or enjoy their golf game again. In fact, we offer the occasional specialty “clinics” for runners who want to avoid injury and golfers looking to drop a few strokes from their game. Expect another article on these topics soon.
What this means for you:
Whether you have a specific medical condition you need to manage, or you need to overcome pain and/ or limitations to achieve a goal, a Re-Kinect MES can help.
Not sure you’re ready for us yet? Discuss it with your healthcare provider or take advantage of our free consultation to see if Medical Exercise is the right fit for you. Contact us or call us at (804) 823-9600 and mention this article to schedule your free consultation today!