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Personal Training v. Physical Therapy

February 23rd, 2022 | 3 min. read

Personal Training v. Physical Therapy
Alana George

Alana George

Content Manager // EW Motion Therapy

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Editor's note: The author would like to thank Jesse Douglas and Amanda Krumrie for their contribution to this article. 

When you want to improve your overall health, your options can be overwhelming, and the titles of practitioners can be confusing. If you want to improve your overall fitness, you have a few options of providers you could see, including a personal trainer or a physical therapist. But which one can better address your needs and goals? 


Our physical therapists and trainers at EW Motion Therapy pride themselves on providing the highest level of one-on-one client care for all our Birmingham and Tuscaloosa clients. Plus, because we have our therapists and trainers under one roof, there is constant communication between the two, so they can work together to develop the best solution for you. Even if you choose to find therapy or training elsewhere, we still want to differentiate between the two so you know which practitioner you should choose. 


This article distinguishes between personal trainers and physical therapists and provides advice on which specialist would be better suited to meet your needs. With this information, you can begin your new treatment knowing that you have the right professional supporting you the whole way. 


How are they similar? 

Both physical therapy and personal training can help you improve your overall physicality. Because both practices use exercise as part of their approach, both can help you feel and move better as you go about your day, thus giving you a better quality of life. Both practitioners can help you choose a movement practice or exercise program so that you can continue your active lifestyle. 


How are they different? 

There are a few ways in which personal trainers and physical therapists differ. First, in terms of education, physical therapists must earn a doctorate degree and pass two licensure exams in order to receive a license to practice in their state. There are many personal training certifications out there, some only available to certain educational levels (bachelor’s, masters, etc.), but generally, no certain educational level is required to become a certified personal trainer. 


Because physical therapists are doctors, they can treat and diagnose certain conditions, while personal trainers do not have that level of authority. Physical therapists can also employ different treatments, like manual therapy and dry needling, that most personal trainers are not authorized to do. Also, a physical therapist’s treatment will usually focus on educating you on what to do to avoid making your injury or condition worse, and prescribe a clear plan of action to get well. On the other hand, the approach of personal trainers is more likely to push your limits so you can become stronger and be your best self. 


Which one should I choose? 

Now you know more about what physical therapists and personal trainers have in common, and how they are different. As far as choosing the right one for you, if you are in any sort of pain, seeing a physical therapist would be the best place to start. They can assess your body individually and figure out the next steps, which might include referring you to a personal trainer for strength and mobility work. If you just want to make general quality of life improvements, then you could start with either specialist - both will give you tools to continue improving your health. 


Because we have both physical therapists and personal trainers in-house at EW Motion Therapy, we offer our Birmingham and Tuscaloosa clients an individualized, streamlined experience, where each specialist communicates with each other to come up with the best treatment plan for you. If you are interested in therapy or training with us, fill out the Request an Appointment form on our website, and someone from our staff will contact you within 48 hours with your next steps.

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