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MSK

Empowering Health and Physical Activity Professionals to Support Clients with Musculoskeletal Conditions

In today’s physical activity sector, health and fitness professionals play a pivotal role in promoting overall wellbeing. As the demand for wellness services continues to grow, so does the need to provide specialised support for individuals with a variety of common, chronic health issues. Amongst these are musculoskeletal conditions (MSK), which some 20 million people in the UK, almost one third of the population, suffer from. In this blog, we will explore the world of musculoskeletal conditions, the need for holistic support, and how focused learning and development can allow your organisation to support clients with long term conditions related to MSK.

Understanding Musculoskeletal Conditions

Musculoskeletal conditions, often abbreviated as MSK, encompass a wide range of disorders affecting the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints. These conditions can be chronic or acute and may result from various factors such as injuries, ageing, genetics, or lifestyle choices. Some common MSK conditions include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, back pain, and osteoporosis.

Clients with MSK conditions often face pain, limited mobility, and reduced quality of life. It’s crucial for health and physical activity professionals to understand these conditions, as they frequently work with individuals who require tailored fitness and wellness solutions, supporting them to meet physical activity guidelines.

What health benefits does exercise offer people with MSK Conditions?

  • Pain Management: Engaging in regular physical activity has been shown to reduce pain and discomfort associated with MSK conditions. By strengthening muscles and improving joint flexibility, exercise can alleviate pain and help clients regain their quality of life.
  • Improved Range of Motion: Exercise programs tailored to MSK conditions can enhance joint flexibility and increase the range of motion. This not only aids in day-to-day activities but also enhances a person’s overall sense of independence and wellbeing.
  • Enhanced Muscle Strength: For many MSK conditions, muscle weakness can exacerbate symptoms. Exercise helps individuals build strength in the major muscle groups, providing better support for the affected joints, reducing the risk of injury and helping to prevent falls during everyday activities.
  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for managing many MSK conditions, as excess weight places added stress on joints and bones. Exercise contributes to weight management, which can alleviate symptoms and reduce the progression of these conditions.
  • Improved Mood and Mental Health: Exercise is not only a physical remedy but also a mental one. It releases endorphins, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression commonly associated with living with chronic pain and discomfort. For people living with MSK conditions, particularly older adults whose mobility is impaired by their condition, it also offers a chance for socialisation, improving their mental health further.
  • Better Sleep: Many individuals with MSK conditions struggle with sleep disruptions due to pain. Regular exercise can improve sleep quality, promoting overall wellbeing.

As with most health conditions, regularly meeting physical activity guidelines (150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week such as strengthening activities or cardio-based exercise) also helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.

The Training Required

To effectively support clients with MSK conditions, professionals need specialised training that goes beyond the standard learning. Areas of knowledge required are:

  • Understanding MSK Conditions: Health and fitness professionals should have an understanding of various MSK conditions, including their causes, symptoms, and treatment options. This knowledge helps them create personalised fitness and rehabilitation plans.
  • Exercise Prescription: Professionals need to learn how to design exercise programs tailored to the specific needs and limitations of clients with MSK conditions. This includes modifications to exercises, intensity, and duration to ensure safety and effectiveness.
  • Communication Skills: Empathy and effective communication are paramount when working with clients who may be dealing with pain and discomfort. Staff must learn how to establish trust and maintain open lines of communication with their clients.
  • Adaptive Equipment and Techniques: Knowledge of adaptive equipment and techniques is essential for professionals to make workouts accessible and comfortable for clients with MSK conditions. This may involve using assistive devices or modifying exercises to reduce strain on affected areas.
  • Pain Management: Professionals should be trained in pain management strategies, enabling them to provide relief and support for clients experiencing discomfort related to their MSK conditions.

Supporting Clients with MSK Conditions

With a third of the population suffering from a MSK condition, it is essential that organisations are able to cater to this market, providing meaningful support for a broad sector of clients and developing a reputation amongst health care professionals as a knowledgeable member of the wider public health workforce.

As well as upskilling staff, the correct learning and development will maximise client appeal and increase retention. Training such as the Level 4 Low Back Pain Exercise Specialist supports instructors looking to offer specialist exercise prescription so that your organisation can expand its services and membership.

Conclusion

Musculoskeletal conditions are hugely prevalent, and health and physical activity professionals are uniquely positioned to make a significant impact on the lives of individuals with MSK conditions. Through specialised training, effective communication, and adaptive approaches, health and fitness professionals can empower their clients to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. At Future Fit for Business, we are dedicated to providing the training and support necessary to ensure that your staff can offer the highest level of care to clients with MSK conditions, enhancing the wellbeing of those who need it most.