A few years ago, while training a client in the gym, there was a thunderous crash in the weight room, followed by a gym member shouting angrily and swearing at the member who had dropped the barbell full of weight plates. It turned out that she was a veteran fighter suffering from PTSD and the loud crash had traumatized her.
What is post-traumatic stress disorder?
according to American Psychological Association (APA)PTSD can develop after someone experiences a traumatic event, including a fight, accident, terrorist attack, natural disaster, or crime (including sexual offenses). People with PTSD may have flashbacks or nightmares, which may be recurring, and may also avoid activities or places that remind them of the event; They also tend to experience emotional ‘numbing’. PTSD may put an individual’s nervous system on high alert (hyperactivity), always ready to fight or flight, making them more easily startled and creating difficulty sleeping and concentrating. A person with PTSD may also feel guilty because they survived the trauma while others did not.
Although PTSD has been around for a long time, it has only been recognized as an official diagnosis since 1980. According to a 2018 review in Military Medical Researchin the latest version of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5 (DSM-5), PTSD is classified into 20 symptoms with four groups: intrusion, active avoidance, negative changes in cognition and mood, and marked changes in arousal and reactivity.
People with PTSD tend to avoid conventional therapy, and are unwilling to relive the experience with a therapist, according to Robert Motta in the book. Health Psychology. Mota also describes how PTSD tends to change a person on every level, including changing one’s sense of self, as well as one’s view of one’s environment.
Exercise and PTSD
Because people with PTSD tend to avoid conventional treatment, it is important to find safe and effective, evidence-based alternative treatments that can help advance them toward recovery. There have been hundreds of studies conducted that show the benefits of exercise on anxiety and depression. Since anxiety and depression are both part of PTSD, it may seem logical that exercise may also help relieve PTSD symptoms.
Turns out, there Do It seems to be a connection.
Motta cites several studies supporting PTSD exercise, especially aerobic exercise, in a chapter on Health Psychology authorized,”The role of exercise in reducing post-traumatic stress disorder and negative emotional states. One of these studies was a 2017 longitudinal study published in Psychiatry in general hospital which indicate that strenuous exercise has a beneficial effect on PTSD symptoms, including avoidance/anesthesia and hypertonia, and that total exercise had positive avoidance/anesthesia benefits.
In the 2019 review in Frontiers in PsychiatryIn the study, researchers reviewed 19 studies examining aerobic exercise and symptoms of PTSD and found that the evidence to date supports aerobic exercise as an independent or adjunct intervention to standard treatment of PTSD.
But what about other forms of exercise?
One review 2022 in military medicine It found that among the studies they reviewed, there were no significant differences between different types of exercise in terms of their effect on PTSD symptoms. In other words, whether it is yoga, a high-intensity or low-intensity activity, a group or individual activity, they are All It appears to have a beneficial effect on PTSD symptoms.
As a health and exercise professional, you may be able to play a special role in the healing process of clients with PTSD. Post-traumatic growth (PTG) refers to the positive psychological change that can occur after a traumatic event(s), according to a 2016 review in Traumatic Stress Journal.
An example of PTG is parents who have lost a child and instead of allowing grief to swallow them up for the rest of their lives, they start an organization to help other families face similar situations. It takes your pain and uses it forever – including your personal growth.
PTG also includes conscious resilience, which, according to Jason Linder, PsyD, in a Psychology Today The essay, includes focus on the present, flexibility, tolerance of uncertainty and self-knowledge/self-control.
Guidelines for Helping Clients Suffering from PTSD
As a health and fitness professional, there are some guidelines that will help you get the most out of your sessions together if a client suffers from PTSD; However, it is important to always remain within your practice.
Christian Koshaba – US Air Force Veteran, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, and Veteran-Focused Gym Owner Three 60 FeetDo everything possible to avoid classifying the person with PTSD as a victim. “Don’t bring a ‘feeling sorry’ attitude toward the individual,” Koshaba says. “They want to be treated with respect, not as a charitable condition.”
Additionally, Koshaba recommends:
- Create an environment conducive to the veteran’s emotional and mental state. “Some veterans crave camaraderie and a team atmosphere, while some veterans potentially affected by loud noises and groups need a quieter, more intimate experience,” Kochba says.
- Find out more about PTSD and learn about potential triggers. “Build a rapport with the individual and try not to be too aggressive with their military experience. Some veterans like to open up and talk about their trauma, while others may not be inclined to talk about it,” says Koshaba.
- Finding common ground. “What stories and experiences can you share to make them feel welcome, allow them to trust you, and see that you can empathize with them?” Koshaba asks. The Wounded Warrior Project Add a word of caution regarding how you empathize with your customer: Avoid saying things like “I know how that feels…” or “That’s just like I was…” Everyone’s feelings and experiences are unique, so avoid comparing your own experiences with theirs.
- At first, avoid vigorous activity. “Learn about the physical limits of a veteran. Inducing too much of an increased heart rate can mimic the fight-or-flight response and send the individual into an experience or memory associated with trauma,” advises Koshaba.
Another tip that some have found useful when teaching classes to those with PTSD is to close the studio door before class begins. Depending on the cause of PTSD, this can create an environment that feels safe. It is important to let clients know that this is a practice for you to try to encourage them to be there on time.
Working with veterans and others with PTSD can be a satisfying and rewarding experience. Research the condition and learn as much as you can before announcing that you work with those with PTSD. Volunteering at local veterans-related organizations can be a great way to gain more knowledge, meet veterans in your community and build a relationship before offering your services to them.