Fitness + Health + Wisdom + Wealth

Corrective Exercise : Elizabeth McLeod

Guest: Elizabeth McLeod

Podcast Release Date: 4/14/2021


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Steve Washuta: Welcome to the Trulyfit podcast. I’m your host Steven Washuta, co-founder of Trulyfit and author of Fitness Business 101. On today’s podcast, we will be speaking with Elizabeth McLeod. Elizabeth is a national academy sports medicine certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist. That is what we discussed today: corrective exercise specialist. What exactly is it and what does it entail? What are the common issues that clients would come to a corrective exercise specialist for? How do you get your corrective exercise? specialty? Why do you think it’s advantageous? What are the differences between a corrective exercise specialist and a personal trainer? What things overlap between a CES and a physical therapist, there are all sorts of things that we talked about surrounding corrective exercise.

I think you guys are gonna get a lot from this, especially if you’re looking to become a corrective exercise specialist, or you are a corrective exercise specialist, but you don’t exactly know how to build your business and how to use it properly. So with no further ado, here’s Elizabeth. Okay, Elizabeth, thanks for being here with the Trulyfit podcast. Let’s give the audience a background on your fitness career and your fitness life how you got into fitness and what exactly you’re doing now.

Elizabeth McLeod: Awesome. Thank you. Thank you for having me on. I started Personal Training in 2011. It was just a happenstance thing I lost about 70 pounds in 2010. When I had a major life overhaul, I was graduating college and I’d gained around 70 pounds going through college just stress, life, and eating away sedentary life choices. I don’t think I’d ever worked out in my entire life. After I lost 70 pounds, someone suggested that I try personal training. So I was like, Alright, sure, why not? And I got into that I started working at a local gym with an in-house certification. So I wasn’t even nationally certified at the time.

I worked there for a few years, not really learning much, not really doing a whole lot, and not being much of a benefit to my clients. I feel like but I started really, truly taking an interest in the fitness industry and in the field itself. Once interest took over, passion really blossomed. And so I was a personal trainer for four years. Then I decided to branch out on my own, I got an ACSM certification, and I got an NSF certification, both for just national certifications for personal training.

Over the next couple of years of training on my own, I think I learned more than in the first entire four or five years of personal training on the whole. Beyond that, I started getting interested in corrective exercise specialization, around 2017. I had a couple of little injuries at the gym, and I wanted to try and pinpoint what was you know, causing that and how I could go about fixing it and then changing you know, my movement patterns. To address that, in 2017 I started getting into strong fit training, which is like a cross between strongman and CrossFit training.

And it sort of opened my eyes to different movement systems. Then I got into anatomy trains, which if you’re familiar with that at all most people are by now but that’s like, like myofascial meridians and stuff like that. And then coming flash forward to 2020 I actually suffered a really bad back injury in March two days before COVID struck and everything sort of shut down I had the nucleus of a thoracic disc burst.

Yeah, I’ve managed to herniate the nucleus of a disk which is an insanely long healing time and that is where I truly got into corrective exercise. So that is taken over the last probably year to year and a half of my life is not only bouncing back from that but diving deep into the world of corrective exercise and I where has it been my entire life? I wish I could go back 10 years ago and start with corrective exercise because it’s just changed everything for me and my clients both so it’s been remarkable.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, it’s funny how you know, your path, whether it’s physically or picking one job over another in the personal training world will completely guide you to your niche, so to speak, and it’s unfortunate sorry to hear about your injury, but I guess in you know, glass half full, now you have a niche that you’re passionate about and that you’re that you can help your clients with I I’m also a corrective exercise specialist, but unlike you, I don’t really like it. Now, I learned a lot from it. I just know it’s not my strength.

In my Fitness Business 101 book, I talk about how trainers have different personalities. And sometimes you’re more sort of like jovial and happy and it’s about creating a speech like an experience. I call that like a demonstrative strainer and then sometimes you have a trainer who’s like more direct and I call them like an anatomical sleuth, someone like you who can, like look at the body and be like, I see like some valgus going on, like, how do I correct the overactive or underactive thing. And I don’t feel that I’m great at that or enjoy doing it. So I tend to make sure that my sessions are, you know, like a more of a general health and wellness approach.

The luxury of doing that is because I have a waiting list of clients. Some people don’t, don’t have the luxury of doing that. But anyway, that’s a long-winded way of saying, as trainers, it’s important to know your style of training and what you’re good at, and sort of making your niche around that. Right? So if you’re someone like you, who is going to tell us soon that you’re really good at analyzing the body and seeing what’s wrong, and you love fixing those things, then that’s the route you should go. And if you’re someone who doesn’t have that mindset, maybe science-wise, you’re not someone who can pass those tests and understand those things, then maybe, you know, group fitness is for you. But there’s always an area that you can specialize.

Elizabeth McLeod: Yeah, you touched on something that really stood out to me, a direct trainer. I can’t say that I’ve been anything, but from day one, until today. That’s all I can say that my training style has ever been with my clients. I mean, almost to the point of no return with some clients, you know, because some clients need a little, you know, sugarcoating, or whatever.

But when it comes to corrective exercise, the more direct you are, the better it is. And so I find that I’ve really flourished with that. Maybe in personal training, not so much like Oh, hey, you’re obese, and it’s your own fault, you know, that kind of thing. It doesn’t really fly so well all the time. But in corrective exercise, it’s Oh, your on-cloud shoes are really destroying your feet, and your walking patterns, and so on. So that really does stick, and it actually helps.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, no, totally. And it’s so important to, you know, this is like might sound like a little woo-woo or psychology stuff, but you have to understand yourself before you pick your niche. Because if you were to pick the niche, being someone who wants to be directed, wants to tell people exactly what to do, and has the answers. And you go into an area where it’s just too fluff, it’s not going to work, right, and vice versa.

So I think it’s really important, as people listen to this, if you want if you feel like your personality is that you were direct and that you’re very sort of scientific-based approach, corrective exercise is for you. And that’s the way to go. So let’s talk about that a little bit. Can you sort of give a vague definition of what exactly a corrective exercise specialist is for anyone who doesn’t know?

Elizabeth McLeod: So I often say that a corrective exercise specialist is someone who really addresses more like global movement patterns, rather than an injury site. The analogy that I always use is like, you know when you sit in one position for too long, and you get really uncomfortable, and then you go to stand up, and it’s like, oh, that’s really uncomfortable like my knee hurts. Now, my back hurts a little bit. Well, a corrective exercise gets you out of those positions that you’ve been in for 10 or 15 years.

So if you’ve had a forward head for like a decade, and you just can’t pull your head back anymore, that’s the kind of stuff that a corrective exercise specialist would address is like postural problems, chronic problems, muscle imbalance, and dysfunction. And then often chronic pain comes along with it. So it’s just from a global perspective, you’re looking at the entire body’s movement, and positioning to

Steve Washuta: Yeah, and I think that’s a great definition. I think some people assume that it’s for specific clients, but I can tell you that everybody has these issues, from their day to day life of a lot of clients who come in who point to an injury, or tell me about an injury and assume it was from our last session, or some workout they did, and 99% of the time, it’s from their daily life living, right. So I have a guy come in, and he was complaining about some shoulder pain, some pain, like in his like, lower trap, right? And he wants to go through like what we did in the last few days workout. And I told him, I was like, Listen, I don’t think this has anything to do with the workout.

Tell me what you did in your like day to day life. And he was like, Oh, well, I took a 12-hour drive. I was driving my RV with my hand on top of the wheel for 12 hours. I said, so your hand was above your shoulder with one arm for 12 hours. And that’s the lower trap that hurts yet you think it was the movements that we did for 30 minutes in the weight room.

It’s this is what happens with people, they neglect to look at what’s going on in their daily lives, whether it’s sitting in properly, or even people standing at their desks sometimes have a tendency to lean towards one leg. Not a big deal if you do that for one day. But if you’ve done that for three years, it’s going to cause some issues. So I think it’s important to really tell your clients that there’s always going to be some sort of issue that can be corrected due to their day-to-day lifestyles.

Elizabeth McLeod: Oh, absolutely. There are so many things that people do on a daily basis that they don’t even particularly think about: like carrying their purse on one shoulder over and over. Carrying their kid on one side over and over. The types of shoes that they wear, even if you’re wearing like a low kitten heel to work that’s like two inches tall. And you think, Oh, well, it’s basically flat, it’s not. So that’s a, you know, affecting everything from foot up. And I always, almost always start with like footwear with people. And it’s amazing what just the wrong choice in shoes can do.

Because you wind up turning muscles that are designed to be rapid-fire, you know, power-oriented muscles, you wind up turning them into postural muscles, like your cat like your gastroc. For instance, here, the powerful muscle that’s supposed to help you jump now becomes chronically shortened and weak. And so it’s no longer there to support you, when you go to I don’t know, step off a curb, and you end up falling over and breaking your hip. So I see all that kind of stuff all the time. And you never pay attention, really, no one pays attention to what position they’re holding their body in. Even as I’m sitting here, now I’ve got one leg crossed underneath me. And I know I’m going to feel that later in my lumbar spine, I’m sure.

Steve Washuta: I want to mark down what something you just said for another conversation in about five minutes shortened week, remember that I want to talk about that. But first, I also want to add to another thing that we were just speaking to where the clients their day to day reminding them exactly what it is that they can possibly or potentially be doing to harm themselves.

Another few things I always see is when they walk their dog if your dog is not trained, and your dog is pulling you and you walk the dog with the same arm over and over and over that shoulder, right that ball and socket here and the shoulder that’s being yanked non stop, there’s gonna be issues or the heavy purse, my wife does this, she’s got like a 27-pound purse in the backseat. And she’ll reach backward this way, grab the purse and bring it over, I’ve had so many female clients with shoulder issues. And, and again, they think it’s something that we did for 20 minutes in the gym when it always ends up being something that they’re doing in their day-to-day loss.

Elizabeth McLeod: Oh, absolutely. It’s even just a woman wearing a bra over and over will become a problem. Over time, you wind up with rib flare and you wind up with anterior pelvic tilt. And you wind up with pec minor syndrome or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome from constantly elevating your shoulders just to take some pressure off of your neck from the bra and I experienced this pretty regularly too. I have to go in and roll out my pec minor pretty constantly just to make sure that my shoulders are able to be you know, held in a proper position rather than rolling forward and creating that rounded shoulder. And it’s just a part of daily life wearing clothes and sitting still for long periods is overwhelmingly taxing on our poor bodies.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, no, you’re right. So to go back to where I sort of bookmarked the shortened week, I feel like there’s been a group think in the fitness industry for a while I might have been one of them a long time ago, who thought well, you know, something short, it’s because it’s overworked. And that you’re that it’s like that it’s tight. Because it’s overworked, and you don’t think short and weak. But really, I mean, now I almost think more so the opposite. A lot of times, I see these things that aren’t used properly, or things are overworked around it, and then and these muscles become short and weak. So can you speak to that a little bit?

Elizabeth McLeod: Oh, definitely. Uh, so I mean, there’s a number of muscles that this happens to the one that I address most frequently is the adductors. So the inner thigh, basically the legs, the muscles in the inner thigh that draw your legs together, these muscles get incredibly short because we sit for long periods of time in our legs. And this is just a kind of stationary position where they’re slightly adducted. So the adductors are now in a passive position. So they’re not under tension, but they’re so they’re too long for the position that your leg is in so muscles don’t like slack. It’s like a rubber band, like for instance, my hair tie.

If I’ve got my rubber band here, like pushed together, not unlike a muscle, it’s going to draw up and it’s going to get tighter in my hands versus being elongated and tight. This is what happens to the adductors in the inner thighs when people sit. So you think like, oh, I’ve gotten knee valgus or Nikkei when I do squats or when I do you know any type of lunging movement, you think my adductors must be tight because they’re so strong.

They’re pulling me in, but really, in reality, it’s that they’ve been passive, and they’ve been in this artificially elongated position where they’ve drawn up that excess slack. So now they need to be inhibited first to release the muscle a little bit and lengthen it back out again, but then they need to be strengthened so that it provides support for all of the surrounding structures.

That’s usually the I mean, one of the most important ones that I see that And like the serratus anterior, for instance, the Stratus anterior helps to pull your shoulder blades around the front side of your rib cage, or it also helps to upwardly rotate the shoulder blade. And so anytime you’ve been in this protracted position for too long, where you have this rounded shoulder, you’re straight, this is going to get like insanely tight, but it’s also going to be incredibly weak. So you can’t recruit it when you need to necessarily because it’s in this shortened position.

Steve Washuta : Yeah, now that’s a great way to describe it. Thank you for using that. I think the the adductor was a great analogy for people to see exactly what can be short and weak. And I don’t know if it’s because people don’t know otherwise, or because they’re lying to themselves. But it is funny how I treat even trainers, trainers who I know who should have the knowledge, always think if something is shortened, it’s because it’s overworked. And sometimes that’s just not the case, right? These are shortened because they’re not being worked, right.

They’re not like you said, they’re not your, your you have your day-to-day issues that are causing these things to happen. So let’s go over why somebody I know we’ve kind of already hit on it, why somebody would see a corrective exercise specialist just over a certified personal trainer. So speak to I mean, the trainers will understand this, but speak to the general public if I’m Suzy and I do want to work out but maybe I have some other issues. Why do I see you over just to CPT?

Elizabeth McLeod : So personal training is great for someone who already has a pretty solid foundation of fitness and they’re not coming from a place of chronic pain, muscular imbalance, you know, recurring injuries, or previous injuries that are still giving them problems. Most of the clients that I see have been pretty active most of their lives, but they have these recurring problems. For instance, I have a lady who suffered an injury a couple years ago that it sort of resolved but had never resolved completely, she went back to training as normal. And since then it has just exponentially gotten worse. And now she got to the point where she couldn’t put on her shoe put on her sock she couldn’t. She couldn’t have relations with her husband even without extreme pain and discomfort.

And I also see clients who have these, like lifelong diagnoses like Ehlers danlos Syndrome, which is it’s a syndrome, that it basically expresses laxity and joint laxity in muscle tissues, kind of a delicateness of tissue that can make one prone to like muscle tears or joint dislocations and things like that. But for the average person, like the average, let’s say 42 years old who graduated college in their early 30s, they got a career, they got a family. Now they’re sedentary, they’re sitting in an office doing the exact same thing all the time, well, then they go to their CrossFit class. They go to do I don’t know, like a cleaning press or something.

And they don’t have the overhead mobility that they need anymore to adequately perform the press. So this rounded shoulder, boop, you’ve got rotator cuff problems all of a sudden. So you create through lifestyle, you create these imbalances, and then you start experiencing a little pain or injury or whatever, or you’ve never even worked out a day in your life. And you may want to see a corrective exercise specialist, just to establish a solid foundation, see where you are, and see where you need to go. So it really runs a very wide gamut of people that you might want to see. from anyone with a lifelong disorder to somebody who’s never been into a gym in a day in their life. So I mean,

Steve Washuta: yeah, yeah. And you know, a lot, I should say almost all of corrector corrective exercise specialists are also certified personal trainers, typically the route you go is a first-year certified personal trainer, and then you add those sorts of things on once you have experience. But that doesn’t mean admittedly. So which I did earlier in the podcast, that’s something that they’re absolutely tied to and specialize in. Right. So although I am a corrective exercise specialist, I don’t I don’t do it in my day-to-day practice anymore, right. So I have the certification.

But if somebody, one of my clients were to come to me with issues that I believe, a good corrective exercise specialist, somebody who uses it more day to day would need, I would send them to the to somebody else who I knew had that background and was able to deal with that more than I would. And really what it comes down to is just seeing these things more often.

Right? It’s not, it’s not always knowledge, right? It’s these anecdotal things if you’ve if somebody comes to you, and they have plantar fasciitis, and you’ve already seen this 65 times, you know, all the different nuances to plantar fasciitis, you know how to deal with it, you know, what the chances are, okay, what shoes are they wearing? How old are they, what are the movements they’re doing or not doing and you can see all these things, but I think it’s important both as, as trainers, right to understand, again, your strengths as we talked about earlier, and send your clients to the appropriate people. They’ll appreciate it right.

That’s why you network in the end Straight, whether it’s a corrective exercise specialist or a physical therapist, or a sports medicine doctor, don’t just try to pretend you know everything. And then from the client’s perspective, you know, work with your trainer. But you can also go see other specialists, your trainer shouldn’t get mad at you to go do that, right. So if somebody wants to come to Elizabeth and just do corrective exercise, but they have another personal trainer, Elizabeth is not going to take that to heart, right? She’s not going to let her ego get in the way, she’ll say, no problem come to me, we’ll help you with your plantar fasciitis so that we can send you back to your personal trainer, so you can do the day to day things you enjoy doing with them. 

Elizabeth McLeod : Yeah, that’s actually that is kind of the goal of corrective exercise already is you typically have depending on the issue that you’re trying to address, you typically have an end date for your corrective exercise program. So you may come from a gym or come from a personal trainer, or come from any other fitness professional to a corrective exercise specialist. And depending on how severe the issue is, you’re going to have a set amount of time. So I usually say that muscular issues or just general movement dysfunction issues are like three months. And then like connective tissue issues, so like tendinitis, and things like that are usually six to eight months.

And then if you’re looking at postural corrections, like scoliosis, or hyper hypo kyphosis, things like that, that relate to the spine are going to be over a year. But there’s typically a start and an end date. And if you’re, you know, if you’re somebody who’s got a corrective exercise specialist, you’re doing your homework, you’re re addressing your movement patterns, and you’re addressing your lifestyle and your, you know, daily behaviors and things and then you graduate.

And that’s kind of the goal for that is. So it’s just a, it’s a set amount of time. And it’s not like personal training sort of is free-flowing. And there’s not really an end date, maybe you have a weight loss goal. But yeah, you want to stay fit even after the weight loss goal. So personal training is more like open-ended and corrective exercise is let’s address this and this and get you out the door.

Steve Washuta : So one of the questions I always get from young personal trainers is, what do I charge? How do I charge? and How do I go about making a program or prescription of exercise? How does that work for someone like you who’s doing only corrective exercise, are you charging on a monthly basis, a program basis, give me an example of how you go about that.

Elizabeth McLeod : So a lot of corrective exercise specialists will charge like, based on the month duration, they’ll set like a number of times per week, and then they set it based on the program for the muscle groups that they’re treating. So they may set like initial kind of like Invisalign. Actually, I don’t know if you’ve ever had Invisalign, but they give you this initial package price, and then they may have to add on at the end. That’s kind of how corrective exercise specialists usually work in my experience. So if I have somebody who comes to me with, let’s say, proximal, hamstring, tendinopathy, or whatever, I’m going to say eight months, twice a week, it is this total amount.

Some of my clients still go week to week and some of my clients pay by a number of sessions. Some of my clients are just on payment plans, I really, don’t have a set way to charge. I like to go with whatever the person can afford at the moment because I just kind of prioritize accessibility over income. Which I mean, that makes it or break it for a business usually. But I like doing that anyway because I feel like it,I can get to more people that way.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, no, I listen, I understand that I’m the same way. And it’s everyone goes about the finances of their fitness business differently. But I think, you know, I don’t want to go off on a tangent here. But making the finances secondary and the money secondary is going to help you long term right, if you’re really focused on your clients and doing a good job, and getting as many clients healthy and happy as you can, word of mouth is going to spread, you’re going to grow at a rate that you can handle, we talk about that a lot, too. If you want to charge too little, that could also make sure that your growth rate, you have too many clients coming in at once.

What happens then is you don’t have the experience at that point to handle all those clients and you do a bad job. And then word of mouth goes against you and you don’t build in the proper format. So there’s a reason that sort of invisible hand of the market. To You know, talk economics works where you know that there’s a price level that you should be charging, and there’s a rate of growth that you should be looking for your goal shouldn’t be to get as much money as you can as fast as you can because it just it doesn’t work out that way.

Elizabeth McLeod : Oh, yeah, it definitely doesn’t. I see. I mean, I see everyone that every social, sex, sex class person so every stratum you can think of as far as like, income base, and it’s I like to make it accessible for everyone, I keep using that word accessible. But when I started my fitness journey back in 2009 2010, I had zero income. I was a student and I was barely scraping by.

I couldn’t afford a personal trainer we could barely ever Ford membership at Planet Fitness. And so that was, you know, $10 a month. And so you’re thinking like, Oh, well, that’s nothing. But if I had had the ability to get a personal trainer, then I may have been in a lot better shape a lot sooner. And so I think about that time, I started working out at home after that with a bottle of laundry detergent and a jump rope.

And so like I had absolutely nothing. So I want to be able to take my services to have, you know, corrective exercise, which I think is almost as important as any fitness thing that you can do, really, I mean, if you’re injured, or you’re chronically in pain, you need access, you need to be able to access somebody who can help you resolve that, without necessarily having to go to the doctor or something like that, like, you should be able to go to somebody who’s going to address your global movement patterns, and see where it goes from there or work with your medical team, I’ve got a lot of clients who bring their MRIs to me, and I work with their doctors to help get a resolution to, you know, whatever’s going on with them inside their bodies, movement patterns.

Steve Washuta : Yeah, and for younger trainers, or newer trainers, or people who only work with younger clients, what you have to understand is the inevitability of injuries is there. As you get older, you’re going to get injured, you’re going to get hurt, your body starts to fall apart. So you should be training your clients for the future, right, your end goal should be how do I make sure this 31-year-old, is still able to do all the things they want to do now or all the things they like to do now at 61. And how you do that is is to get in to look globally. And a lot of times, if you don’t have that skill set, it’s okay to farm that out to somebody else.

But let your client know, hey, listen, you know, I can help you with overall hypertrophy and strength and those sorts of things. But I think you know, you do have some issues with A, B and C, and X, Y, and Z. And you should probably go see a specialist to make sure that we’re continuing to keep you healthy for longevity. And that will make sure that your client keeps coming back to you. Because guess what, if you if they can deadlift, 400 pounds, but they keep, you know, yanking their hamstring will get you’re not getting any sessions out of it because they’re going to cancel on you for the next three months until the hamstring heals. So it benefits both your client and your wallet to make sure that they stay happy and healthy.

Elizabeth McLeod: Oh, exactly. I see a lot of people that. I mean, they work simultaneously with personal trainers. But I think what is freeing at least for the individual coming to a corrective exercise specialist is that when they walk in my door, I say I don’t care what you look like, I care how you move and how you feel. And so I’m in that way I am, I almost take the pressure off. And so like they don’t have to worry about losing weight, they don’t have to worry about lifting a specific amount of weight, they just have to worry about feeling and moving really, really well.

Sometimes it’s a little more frustrating even than actually doing a 400-pound deadlift because you know you’re doing bird dogs on the floor and you can’t, you know, keep your body from rotating, or you can’t really like hold yourself up very well. And so it’s like it’s all my own body and I can’t even control it. But that’s what I love about corrective exercise is that you know, you see so many different problems and you see so many different people and you see so many different movement patterns. And it’s the puzzle of it. And I often think about it as like the matrix-like you’re, you’re in the matrix and you start just like see all these numbers and you start to see the movements and like it’s just, yeah, it’s wonderful.

Steve Washuta: Well, my brain doesn’t work like yours, unfortunately. I wish it did. So my I struggled with the corrective exercise test. I thought it was the hardest personal training-related certification test I’ve ever taken. And I think you who have more of that anatomical sleuth science mind probably didn’t feel that way. But can you maybe for any personal trainers who are out there who are thinking about corrective exercise specialists, can you give like any tips for them if they’re thinking about taking the test that might help them?

Elizabeth McLeod: Yes, actually, I went through the NA s m CES course, and that was phenomenal for me. The course is laid out super well. It’s very straightforward. It is like module after module after module chapter after chapter. There are quizzes. There are practice exams that you can take several of the ways that they approached it if you actually read the material, print off the printable charts, and things you ABS you can’t go wrong. You just can’t go wrong with it. It centers around just a few pivotal things like static assessments, dynamic assessments, postural assessments, and so on. But if you actually just pay attention and you go through the course as listed there, you will not have a problem getting through the exam.

I think 70% is the pass rate on it and You know, an overhead squat assessment inside and out. And you know, static assessment inside and out for standing still posture, the six checkpoints of the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, neck, you know, lumbar, pelvic hip complex, you’ve got all of those down, you will absolutely pass, you just have to go through it step by step and read everything, try not to skip ahead and put your ego aside.

That’s a big one is a lot of personal trainers who have been in the field for a really long time are like, Oh, I got this, no big deal. But if you put your ego aside, and you actually read what they have to say, you’ll learn a lot of new stuff, too. So NSM is the one that I went through. And it was just very, very simple and straightforward.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, that’s the one I went through as well. And those are great tips. So thanks for giving that and I think, when doing it, understanding the parlance, and the jargon that they use, is very important because there are terminologies that people use, that are a little bit different. I think you really have to, like you said, go through it, and understand the terminology before you go into this. I’ll be clear, I passed it on the first time. I just thought it was very science-based right there.

It’s not like the other tests, where you have 30 to 40% of the questions based on a little bit of just common sense, right? Where you can kind of figure it out. Now, if you don’t know the science, you won’t know the question. or excuse me, you won’t know the answer to the question, right, there’s no, there’s no deducing just based on like, like common sense. So you really have to understand how they use their terminology. And like you said, drop your ego, go through the modules and learn the science.

Elizabeth McLeod: Yeah, that’s another thing that really helped me, I think, was having a solid foundation of anatomy. I’m a huge anatomy nerd, I know the directions that muscles run under the names of the muscles. And having a sense of the kind of where your body should be in space versus what you see in front of you. If you can figure out what those muscles do and which direction they’re pulling you, you can kind of get an idea of what the deviation from normal is, and what’s causing that.

So for instance, like rounded shoulder, if you think of your shoulders pulling forward, and they’re not supposed to do that, you should be able to pull from your Rolodex of muscles that pull you in the opposite direction or pull you in that forward direction. And then you have a general understanding of, you know, obviously anatomical norm and then the muscles that are pulling you out of that. So what helped me a lot was having a very solid understanding of anatomy.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. And it’s for people who you don’t need to know like, where things innervate right, we’re not getting to that level. It’s really just understanding like prime movers and antagonist and agonist and, and what are the pulling in the pressing and things like that, and combining that with the new things that you’re going to learn and then putting that all together, and then you’ll be able to pass that test.

Elizabeth McLeod: Yeah, figuring out where things to innovate is helpful. In practice, though, after I did get my CES, there is a CES program, an individual like training session is broken down into, for at least I do a cardio warm-up with all of my clients, just something to get them lubed up and get them moving in the right direction. And then I go through an inhibition and lengthening section which is basically stretching foam rolling, loosening up the stuff that’s overactive and weak or overactive and tight, and just whatever. And then you go through like an activate integrate portion, which I mean, you know, this is fear NSM c zS so activate, integrate is going to be activating the weaker or the more inhibited muscles that need work and then integrating them into a movement pattern itself.

So when you get through the inhibit and lengthened stuff, that’s where it would be helpful to know what nerves do what know a little bit of trigger point therapy that helped me a lot because I’ve been studying that for about three years now is trigger point therapy. That the referred pain patterns and stuff help me beyond anything else almost. So if somebody comes into me, and they say, Oh, well, I have this pain in my, the arch of my foot.

There are so many things that it could be all the way down the chain from hip to foot. Is it plantar or is it like is your peroneus out of whack? Or is it coming from your glute Meade or is it coming from your piriformis? Even Is it your sciatic nerve? Like so there’s a lot of neurology, I think to it to a degree like you have to know. Um, but yeah, trigger point helped me a lot with that, too.

Steve Washuta: Yeah, and for anyone here who’s hearing all of this, and maybe you’re a little taken back and going, whoa, how do I get there, right? Maybe you’re new to personal training, and you were thinking about corrective exercise and you’re hearing all of this, again, this very anatomical jargon and it’s too much for you. You’ll get there right now. There. It takes a while. You have to see multiple clients and see different things going on. And you’ll start to learn and also your clients understand that sometimes you have to look things up. Right? My wife is a pediatrician, pediatric sports medicine doctor, sometimes she sees something and she has to go back into the other room and look it up, right? She doesn’t know everything none of us do.

So it’s, it’s totally okay, you’re going to learn on the job. It’s happened many times, but once you learn it, it’s great, because you’ll never forget it. Right? So I’ve had a client come in when I was doing corrective exercise years ago, and he has basically his left tricep had gone like, like, completely soft. He had no muscle and was completely atrophying. And he was like, yeah, I’m having some pain in my shoulder blade and things like that. So, you know, we did our due diligence after he had gone to other personal trainers, and an orthopedist who somehow didn’t diagnose it, we found out that he had compression in C-67.

That was causing that issue, right, that’s where it innervates. And basically, all those muscles down through there were not firing. Luckily, he got the surgery, he was fine. He’s back to 95% health as far as those muscles are concerned because we caught it early enough. But, you know, if I just pretended I knew or thought it wasn’t a big deal, and didn’t go do my due diligence and look it up, this guy would have not had tricep function for the rest of his life. So it’s on us to know that we can continue to do our due diligence, outside of the purview of just the hour session, we’re working with the client to help them out.

Elizabeth McLeod : Oh, absolutely. And I even look stuff up while I’m in the middle of a session I since you know work for myself, I have the luxury of having my cell phone right there, this teeny tiny little computer that I can just start looking at things up. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put a pause on a session and you know, decided to Okay, let me see exactly what this is or where this runs or where this attaches or, you know, maybe a trigger point pattern or what nerve this could be or whatever. So, yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time in sessions over the last year and a half looking things up to make sure that I’m doing the right thing at the moment.

And it just if you have interest and you have passion for the material that you are teaching or training or coaching, it comes in a time I eat sleep and breathe corrective exercise, I really do. I just it’s so deeply ingrained in my life. Now, I don’t know what I would do without it. And so with time, interest and passion, I’ve gotten really, really good at it passing the test is just the first step. But if you’re interested in passion living there, you will become an expert in no time, you just will eat sleep, and breathe it like I do. And I only hope to be you know, the as good as I’d like to be one day, I just need to keep going with it. And you know, let my passion take over.

Steve Washuta: I wish I knew the name of this app. But when I was doing corrective exercise, I had a tablet and I had a free app, one of them was free, one of them cost like $3. Basically, it showed the whole body right and you can go 360 around the body. And by pressing a button, you can take layers off, right so you can see the muscles on top and underneath, and you can see where things intervene, you can press on certain things I can go I can go to the foot and see where things and it was fantastic.

My clients didn’t mind it, right, because they knew that this was not like me just telling them to go do burpees or something and like yelling at them like this, this was about me fixing a problem, right? So of me having my tablet there, and working with them and showing, it’s like when I go see a golf professional, they take a video of me, they bring me over, they show me the video, they point out what I’m doing wrong and my swing.

And that’s sort of the report that you’re going to have when you’re doing corrective exercise. So it’s, I would, I would say, I’ll try to write that down in the, in the bio information here. But look, look for these sorts of apps, this is what you’d like to do so that you can share with your client who can’t see they’re back, right? And you can point to their serratus, but they’re not able to see it. So it’s important that you’re able to show them what’s going on. Because just like in regular Personal Training, some clients learn visually, some clients learn sort of auditory, and sometimes even learn auditory in a different way, right? You can say things in six different ways. And suddenly it catches with them. To find the manner in which you can communicate to your client what’s going on the best. 

Elizabeth McLeod: Yeah, the app that I use is called Muscle In Motion. It’s a yearly subscription. It’s like $30 for the entire year. For me in my sessions I can pick up my app and show the client what they’re actually working on and what’s creating the dysfunction and you know, it’s amazing, not really many people know anatomy. And so when you start slinging out these Latin words at them, they just kind of go dead-faced. And so I’m like, Nope, it’s this little thing. Then I have them use it like infraspinatus for instance like that seems to be a pretty dysfunctional muscle on most people, but no one’s gonna know what an infraspinatus is.

So I show them, you know, on, on the app, and then I have them use the muscle and then the piece that together. Then I show them in a video after the fact, I might even take a video of them during the session, videos have become just a remarkable tool for interests that feedback. So if I have them do a set of bird dogs, and then I’m videoing them from the side, and then from the rear, they can see what they’re doing in the moment, and they can see what’s not firing properly. So I use video a lot with my clients to give them that visual feedback too. But muscle emotion is the name of the app, and it’s phenomenal.

Steve Washuta : Awesome. Yeah, thanks for passing that on. I’m gonna check that out. So for personal trainers, and other fitness professionals who are thinking about becoming a corrective exercise specialist, if they want to reach out to you with any questions, do you have a way that they can directly contact you whether by email or otherwise?

Elizabeth McLeod: Yeah, so I actually own a website, it’s called Half of the website is devoted to corrective exercise and actually getting in touch with me as a corrective exercise specialist. The email address is supported at If you just go to the website, though, there’s a contact box initially on that first page.

Steve Washuta: Awesome. What about Instagram or any of your other platforms where people can find you?

Elizabeth McLeod: I do have a Facebook page that I don’t really keep up with as much as I ought to. I’ve got a YouTube channel for fireyourtrainers that is active. And I always look at comments, I always try to tailor the videos that I put out based on the feedback that I get and what people are looking for. So I have an exercise library of probably almost 300 videos at this point for corrective exercise and for weightlifting in general, with more so recently with corrective exercise movements. And then I have an Instagram, which is still in the works, but it should be up soon, I hope.

Steve Washuta: Well, I will put all that information below the YouTube video, and on the Buzzsprout. Unfortunately, on Spotify, I can’t put that information below. But when I post this video on my Facebook account and my Instagram, I’ll list all that information. But Elizabeth, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for your time and your info. Hopefully, we’ll talk soon on another subject. 

Elizabeth McLeod: Awesome. Thank you so so much. 

Steve Washuta: Thanks for joining us on the Trulyfit podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review on your listening platform. Feel free to email us as we’d love to hear from you.

Thanks again!


YOUTUBE VIDEO: Corrective Exercise 101 with Elizabeth McLeod



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