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Am I Allowed to Touch my Clients?

by Lisa
(Katy, TX)

Am I allowed to put my hands on a client with their consent, for the purpose of stretching or manual therapy of soft tissue. This would not be marketed as massage, and would be a small part of the personal training practice. I will soon be certified in Functional Manual Reaction.

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Hands on
by: Spartan Training

I have well over 20,000 hours of hands on personal training experience...There is a right way to touch a client and there is a wrong way to touch a client. Typically you want to keep your hands open so that you are touching the client with the flat of your hand. Finger tip touching can be a little questionable...Touching a client should be a part of teaching the client how to use their muscles...If you will notice when you touch a client during an exercise...specifically the muscle they are using to perform the exercise...this helps them to focus on the muscle they are using...because when you touch that muscle, the clients mind goes to the place where they are being touched...and so this helps them to increase mind muscle connection...Contact should always be firm and deliberate...Do not touch gently, softly, or tenderly...Do not touch a client in areas that are below or underneath clothing lines...When you are going to touch a client for example during a body-fat test using the calipers...Always inform the client that you are going to be testing your abdominal fat so I need to get hold of you right about an 1 1/2 from you naval...and now I need to get the triceps, and now the thigh and so on...Massage and stretching touches should be confident and without hesitation...A visual demonstration would help...but if you don't have that...Just put yourself in the clients position and touch them the way you would want a personal trainer to touch you....

Human touch legal?
by: Lisa

Thank you for your detailed reply! All good stuff! I am really asking more about the legality rather than for techniques about hands-on stretching.

Human touch legal?
by: Jessica

Lisa, hands-on soft tissue work is not in the scope of practice of certified personal trainers. If you have the qualifications for it, then this will be regulated through the appropriate agency.

There are several techniques for self-manipulation which can fall into the scope of a personal trainer, such as MELT (Myofascial Energetic Length Technique) or the myofascial release techniques recommended through the corrective exercise continuum of the NASM CES certification. Those are done by the clients themselves based on evaluation and advice of a trainer.

Hands Off
by: Zach

Touching your clients is not within your scope of practice and should only be performed in the most minimal sense. It should essentially be limited to body fat testing (if trained) or guiding/ tactile cueing of movements and contractions after you have your clients consent and they are aware you will be touching them. Hands on purposeful stretching, massage or manipulations (which some certifications teach) are outside of the scope of practice of a personal trainer regardless of level of "self study" or general education unless you are licensed in a respective field to do so e.g. PT, DC, ATC, MD, DO, etc. In this case where you hold a license in a different profession that will dictate your scope of practice. Overall, personal trainers and strength coaches should not be stretching clients even though it is tempting to add "value" to sessions. Even though you are not claiming this is a massage, in our sue happy world, it will sure look that way. In addition, if you aren't performing the massage for a purpose, such as decreasing tension and improving range (which falls within a LMT or therapy realm) why are you doing it in the first place?

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