The Best Corrective Exercise Program Options 2023

Introduction to Corrective Exercise

Corrective Exercise is all about finding balance, gaining range of motion, and improving mobility.

Corrective exercise is one of the modalities to enter in order to become a fitness instructor, and it has its own set of benefits and function in the fitness industry.

At gyms all over the country, you’re likely to find at any given moment someone trying to squat on a bosu ball without toppling over. But corrective exercise is more than just finding a good balance.

Corrective exercise is a middle ground between personal training and physical therapy strategies. The world of kinesiology, conditioning, and rehabilitation all come together in corrective exercise. To be a great corrective exercise specialist, you will need to know all of the basic anatomy and physiology, as well as injury prevention, proprioception, stability, and functional fitness teachings.

General wellness, flexibility, and motor control are some other important topics that are found within these CES programs, and most of the main personal training topics are found at least briefly, besides topics such as nutrition. But, most other domains of knowledge will be found and implemented in a more specific, finely detailed manner.

CES teachings are used by physical therapists to treat injuries, reduce pain, and improve fundamental movement. Certified personal trainers should be using it for the same reasons, but the difference is that their clients are there for fitness, not just for injury treatment. A lot of times personal trainers will have to work around an injury, but corrective exercise is a good way of meeting it head-on. Improving range of movement and fixing any muscular imbalances can definitely help a client get more fit and improve their quality of living.

Like all trends, there is a mixture of good and bad. And in this case, it’s super important to be implementing it properly. Improper corrective exercise can actually exacerbate injuries and, frankly, can be a waste of your clients’ time if it’s not needed.

Corrective exercise salaries are also increasing at a solid rate, similar to the personal trainer salaries and other certified fitness areas.

So, to incorporate corrective exercises properly, it’s important to get certified by the right people.

Keep in mind that since you will be a fitness trainer, regardless of other certifications you hold, personal trainer/ fitness instructor insurance will be required.

Let’s take a look at what’s on offer for a future corrective exercise specialist.

International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

One of the other great options for fitness professionals would be ISSA and their CES certification. The ISSA CES materials are among the best the industry has to offer, and they will benefit the majority of training practices.

ISSA is most known for having the best deals of the top fitness organizations, and they give access to more people with the constant savings they offer.

ISSA breaks down its information in the textbook into two sections which cover the majority of corrective exercise information. These two sections are corrective exercise science and corrective exercise practice. In total, the text consists of 13 units, with there being 5 in the first section and 8 in the second section.

ISSA does not have an overall model like ACE and NASM for their learners to ‘plug and play’, but still manages to teach all of the essential content and experience of corrective exercise courses.

The CES course from ISSA is offered through an online format with a study portal that gives many video demonstrations or webinars, as well as optional downloads and assessment resources.

This CES certification has many testimonials from people with coaching expertise, and this adds to the credibility of the organization’s cert results.

On top of the information above, ISSA is known to have some of the easier tests and quizzes to pass, while still keeping up with the detail provided by the competition.

Something that ISSA could improve its materials with would be a chapter highlighting equipment that can be used or chapters specific for body locations like NASM, where there are chapters for each area like ankles, knees, shoulder girdle, spine and hips, to name a few.

This program is ideal for learners who want to focus a bit more on the value of their money, as you will find more bundles and deals when you go with ISSA for getting multiple certifications.

ISSA offers many other products for beginners in fitness to bundle together, and there are many options in core training fields like corrective exercise.

National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)

NASM is a leading certifier in the fitness industry, and it is no different with their corrective exercise credential. NASM and the CES certification they offer is most well-known for implementing its OPT model used in personal training, and the addition of this into the corrective coach process makes it much more valuable than if they didn’t have this popular CPT cert.

Since NASM has one of the best personal trainer certifications, it makes sense that it would have a really solid CES certification to offer.

NASM simplifies its corrective exercise into a four-step continuum, which really defines the steps and techniques that can be used for corrective exercise.

The first step on the continuum is to inhibit. In this stage, the goal is to reduce tension in affected areas, reduce any soreness present, and improve circulation to the area. Next is to lengthen or improve the range of motion. Think of static stretching to reduce muscle stiffness.

The next step is to activate. This isolates the affected muscles and strengthen any that are underactive or weak. Lastly, integrate. This is giving dynamic total body exercises to incorporate into everyday workouts or just day-to-day life, focusing on coordination, movement patterns, and improving general performance.

The NASM program is offered through an online platform, but they also offer programs that include a live workshop where you can see for yourself corrective exercise in action. The biggest perk to this program is the actionability. The steps are clearly laid out, and each one describes what to do and how it works.

NASM has a close focus in its later chapters on the limitations, muscle groups, communication strategies, restrictions, contraindications, and muscle dysfunction. These are some of the prime teachings of corrective exercise specialists.

The later chapters have many assessments and activities in the online study portal menu to help with learning everything needed for more advanced concepts like

NASM is well known to have a harder exam, which may garner more respect from employers.

NASM also offers a performance enhancement specialist certification which aims to focus more on athletes and their training, but corrective exercise is a beneficial certification for this approach, too.

It is important to know that this program is best suited for people with background knowledge of musculature specifics or someone who already has attained the NASM personal trainer or other health certification, as they would be familiar with the NASM model.

American Council on Exercise (ACE)

Another respected program is ACE. The ACE certification for corrective exercise specialization is based on The Biomechanics Method, or TBMM. It is divided into five inclusive modules.

The Biomechanics Method is also a stand-alone organization, but it partners with ACE. It is worth checking out their organization, as well.

This ACE/Biomechanics Model certification, also written as TBMM-CES, is broken down into modules for students to easily find the needs for course completion and implementation in clients’ exercise programs.

Modules one and two focus on fundamentals. They go over how to assess each joint in the body and how an injury in one joint can affect another part of the body. The third module is where you finally get into the actual corrective exercise, including how imbalances cause pain, how to improve mobility, and increase strength.

Module four focuses on the client. This is when you learn specific program design. They also focus on the upkeep of client motivation, behavior, and communication. The last module is the complete exercise library. It’s a digital reference manual that shows you a huge selection of exercises to be considered when designing your programming.

This major library of exercises highlights the regressions, progressions, and exercise program design for all the areas of the body, with high importance placed on the more commonly injured joints like the shoulder, knee, hip, ankle, and basically all five major kinetic chain checkpoints.

The exercise library is similar to the other two certifications in this article and includes some form of audio lectures, a study guide, videos, and in-depth guidelines in easy to navigate forms.

A major pro of the ACE specialization is the focus on the client. Screening and program development are all well and good, but if you can’t get your client motivated or committed, it all goes out the window.

A con is that the entire program is online. They use an interactive system, but they do not offer in-person training.

The big note for this program is that it is not a traditional CES certification like the aforementioned ISSA and NASM certifications, but instead, it is a specialization meant for education and, of course, continuing education credits, or ceus, needed for recertification.

Still, with that last note, it is important to recognize that this is still a valid certification to pursue.

Which Program is Right for You?

The short answer is that it depends on you! It’s important to do your research, really consider your current level of knowledge, and choose from there.

Based on my experience with these programs in the fitness space, I believe these three teach corrective exercise skills and abilities more so than the rest of the corrective exercise training package competition in the market.

If you currently have a certification from one of these three certifying fitness organizations, then I would most likely suggest that you go with the same organization, as recertification and other small things are made easier.

If you are yet to enter the fitness industry and are looking to make the CES field your first certification, then I would suggest that if you want the highest value for multiple certifications, go with ISSA. If you want the benefits of the top fitness program model, the OPT model, then I would suggest you go with the highly regarded NASM CES. And lastly, if you want a specialization course, as opposed to a full-on certification, then the Biomechanics Method course done through ACE would be the ideal path.

A good deciding factor would be thinking about which certificate you think you’ll be able to put to the greatest use in your programs. To me, the simplicity of NASM’s corrective exercise makes it easy to use in real life, with real clients, and with real problems.

Corrective exercise is a valuable skill as a personal trainer that can add value to your business. Learning the proper way to assess and implement a program can help you and your clients to live happier and healthier!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the costs associated with certification?

The ISSA CES costs $799, but can often be found in bundles from ISSA to make multi-cert purchases a lot cheaper. On top of that, they often hold sales on their programs.

The NASM CES program costs $899 as a base price and they also often have a deal on their programs, but less so with multiple cert purchases.

The ACE Biomechanics Model specialization course comes in at $749, with deals often bringing it as low as $550.

What are the requirements for certification?

To get certified in the fitness industry, the typical requirements are going to be:

– 18 years of age

– High school diploma

– Current CPR / AED certification

Who offers the best corrective exercise certification?

The best corrective exercise program is not going to be universal, but narrowing down the best options is easily done. The best CES certifications come from the NASM, ISSA, and ACE organizations.

What other specializations are good for a CES certified professional?

You will see a large variety of certifications from trainers with a CES certification. Some other common ones will be a standard CPT certification or even something as specific as yoga training courses from a reputable company.

Personal trainer schools also offer a beneficial viewpoint for entering the fitness industry.

The fitness business has options for everyone and with a firm understanding of trends, trainers can craft a service for any type of client.

Some other similar and valuable specializations would be strength and conditioning certifications, health coach certifications, and group exercise certifications.

How do you know if a corrective exercise certification will be beneficial?

CES certificates are quite beneficial for the average trainer. Pretty much all fitness businesses could benefit from having specific corrective exercise knowledge.

With the rise in need for fitness careers for the general public, and the increase in injuries due to inactivity and obesity, corrective exercise certification is a great addition to fitness professionals.

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