Orthopedic Exercise Specialist Overview

Fitness Certification From the American Council on Exercise

Orthopedic therapist checking a woman's wrapped ankle
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Orthopedic Exercise Specialist is a certification offered by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). It is an online course consisting of books, DVDs, and tests and is available from the ACE website.

According to the ACE, the orthopedic exercise specialist certification provides additional expertise for a variety of health, fitness, and sports medicine professionals including:

Additionally, the certification allows the health professional to gain valuable expertise in treating patients who suffer from knee pain, muscle imbalances, and musculoskeletal disorders.

Units of study include lessons on maintaining healthy muscles, bones and joints. Specialists will learn how to "identify muscle imbalances, weaknesses or tightness, deficits in balance...and loss of range of motion," and how to implement "exercise modifications including those for low back pain, elbow tendinitis, knee, and hip arthritis..".

Additional content includes post-orthopedic rehabilitation for helping patients to recover from common injuries as well as from surgical procedures. There is also one session each devoted to the knees, shoulders, and lower back.

Why Get Certified?

This certification allows professionals to expand their knowledge, learn new exercises, and drill down on new ways to manage pain and other musculoskeletal issues in their patients.

Also, from a marketing perspective, it shows your clients that you have taken extra steps to increase your knowledge of post-surgical recovery as well as recovery from athletic injuries in the shoulders, knees, hips, back, or ankles.

Health coach and personal trainer Anne Asher recently earned certification as an Orthopedic Exercise Specialist. Asher saw this certification as the perfect enhancement for her multi-faceted career and authoring Move Pain Out of Your Body, The Holistic Approach to Backache Relief and Back Exercise. Ms. Asher strives to combine a variety of methodologies when working with clients, and she appreciates the scientific aspect this certification brings to her already substantial knowledge base.

Asher likes the fact that the course content was written by a physician, and drills down into the science of the causes and treatments for a variety of conditions. "I acquired additional medical terminology. I also learned about different types of orthopedic surgeries, as well as protocols for a variety of rehab scenarios," she explained.

Having very recently completed the certification, Asher has not yet had time to put her newly acquired certification into practice. That said, she is already planning ways she can implement this new knowledge into upcoming classes and fitness sessions.

Asher is confident that the Orthopedic Exercise Specialist certification will be a valuable one for her, as well as other healthcare professionals like her. One reason for this is the increasing demand for physical therapy services. "Physical therapy is one of the fastest growing professions," she stated. "People are living longer, they are needing more joint replacements and other related surgeries, and insurance often cuts them off after an average of about six PT (physical therapy) visits. So where do these people go then?"

She adds that, while many patients do feel better after completing their allotment (by the insurance company) of physical therapy sessions, they are often not yet at 100 percent recovery, these people could benefit from further conditioning from continued work with a qualified trainer or health coach, she says. In Asher's opinion, orthopedic exercise specialists can help fill a very important need in this population.

How Much Do Orthopedic Exercise Specialists Earn?

Since this certification is more of an add-on than a primary degree or certification, there is not much information on what one earns solely practicing as an orthopedic exercise specialist. However, you could project to grow your income by adding clients that you couldn't treat prior to this certification, or adding additional visits for existing clients based on the added, more in-depth knowledge. Therefore, you could consider what your average earnings have been so far as a personal trainer, athletic trainer, physical therapist, etc., and add a percentage on to that based upon the percentage by which you think you could expand your practice and client base by obtaining the orthopedic exercise specialist certification.

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