What is a Corrective Exercise Specialist in [2023]? All Info

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This article is about who a Corrective Exercise Specialist is and what a career as a corrective exercise specialist is all about.

I’ll be addressing the following key aspects:

What corrective exercise is?
The difference between corrective exercise, strength and conditioning, and physiotherapy
Why anyone would need a corrective exercise specialist
Pros and Cons of corrective exercise
How to become a professional corrective exercise specialist.

So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

What is a Corrective Exercise Specialist in [year]? All Info 1

What is Corrective Exercise?

As the name implies, corrective exercise is a system of exercise science that deals with improving the functionality of the human body.

This is achieved by addressing muscular imbalances, movement dysfunction, postural deviations, and movement compensations.

After conducting such an assessment, the next step is program design towards correct activation.

Corrective exercise operates on the principles of biomechanics and kinesiology to pinpoint anatomical weaknesses in the human body, which are then trained towards optimal function.

Corrective exercise works on two basic premises, and these are identification and rectification.

Identification takes place during the assessment phase and is simply the pinpointing of where problems lie.

This shouldn’t be considered a diagnosis since corrective exercise isn’t aimed at medical intervention or healthcare practice.

Its simply checking for correct form through a set movement pattern.

Next is rectification, which is where a program with a corrective approach is designed and implemented.

This phase of corrective exercise is no different from a regular personal trainer program design and implementation, with the main difference being an emphasis on corrective exercise strategies.

Most members of the general population and even a significant number of fit and athletic individuals deal with imbalances, deficiencies, and deviations.

With this in mind, most exercise instruction has or should have a degree of correctiveness and functional movement implemented.

But when we speak of corrective exercise, it’s important to understand that we’re dealing with significant issues, ones that may affect wellbeing in general.

A common issue in this category is spinal deviations, typically identified when reporting back pain.

Having bad posture is often the result of poor lifestyle habits, especially those linked to sedentarism, such as excessive sitting or smartphone usage.

The term “tech neck” has been coined to describe new phenomena of forwarding tilting head posture as the result of people constantly looking downwards at mobile devices.

The lengthening of the posterior neck muscle groups and the shortening of the anterior ones has lead to a generation of somewhat hunchbacked individuals.

Other common examples of common incidences that require a corrective exercise program design include gait deficiencies, pelvic tilts, postpartum conditioning and revitalization, and improvement in the function of elderly individuals.

Two other exercise science practices are often seen as related to corrective exercise, but it is important to understand the differences.

That’s because it’s fairly easy and all too common to confuse them with corrective exercise simply because, in essence, they do instill a great degree of biomechanical correction.

I’m talking about physiotherapy and strength and conditioning.

The Difference Between Corrective Exercise, Physiotherapy and Strength & Conditioning


In this section, I’ll reveal to you the difference between Corrective Exercise, Physiotherapy, and Strength & Conditioning.

As I’ve gone over what corrective exercise is in detail, it’s important to understand how it differs from two other exercise science practices that have similar leanings.

Before we go into differences, let’s look at the similarities first.

The first similarity with all three practices is that they are all aimed at optimizing function.

Strength and conditioning are geared towards improved athletic performance, physiotherapy is aimed at improved post-injury/post recovery function, and corrective exercise aims to improve or restore general function.

And that’s pretty much it from a similar perspective. So what are the differences?

In order to understand those, we’ll need to define what the other two are.

Strength and Conditioning

Strength and Conditioning is an exercise science practice aimed mainly at improving athletic performance.

It works on two fundamental pillars.

The first is to enhance physical performance in the way of strength, power, endurance, and agility.

The second is to reduce the risk, rate, and severity of injury in the way of flexibility, balance, and durability.

While strength and conditioning can be applied to general population groups, it’s more commonly applied to those with significant athletic or sporting goals on both an amateur and professional level.

I go into more detail on strength and conditioning as a career in a separate series of articles.

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Physiotherapy is the practice of diagnosing and therapizing biomechanical issues, often as the result of injury or trauma.

Damage to the musculoskeletal system inevitably results in a lot of function.

Physiotherapists step in to isolate these problems and work on solutions to rehabilitate the damaged or injured movement systems to full recovery or the best possible outcome.

Because of this, physiotherapy is more of a sports medicine practice than an exercise science practice.

So, What Are The Differences?

Aside from the notable differences, you can extract from each definition, and there are a few important ones to consider.

One of those is the fact that out of the three, only strength and conditioning is a proactive practice, while physiotherapy and corrective exercise are reactive practices.

That means S&C is applied in order to build upon existing capabilities while physio and corrective are applied to address weaknesses.

Another difference lies in the fact that out of the three, physiotherapy is the only one that falls under medical practice. At the same time, the other two don’t claim any medical validity despite also being under the health sciences.

That’s not to say physios are doctors because they typically aren’t. Still, their scope of practice and expertise very often overlaps with that of healthcare professionals such as orthopedic surgeons and radiologists, to name a few.

They often have a referral network with such professionals and may even share a practice with them.

One last difference is the qualification process.

In order to pursue a career as either an S&C specialist or a physiotherapist, a degree in a relevant field is necessary or strongly recommended, while for corrective exercise, one simply needs to obtain a certification.

Who Needs A Corrective Exercise Specialist?

Who Needs A Corrective Exercise Specialist?

Do you want to know those who may be in need of the services of a Corrective Exercise Specialist?

Read below to find out!

Well, almost everyone could do with the services, or at the very least, the knowledge of corrective exercise.

That’s because, as I mentioned, everyone has some form of imbalance, compensation, or deviation.

This is especially true in the modern age where humans are more sedentary than ever, and the need for physical therapy is on the rise.

Our bodies are either very stationary or are subject to the same positions for extended amounts of time.

Your body is designed to be in a near-constant state of change, change of position, and change of motion.

When this doesn’t occur, deviations and imbalances set in.

For most people, there aren’t any major concerns when it comes to such inadequacies with the human-machine, but in other instances, focused intervention is required.

So which cases would corrective exercise really need to take center stage?

Youth Training

Training kids, especially in their prepubescent and high growth phases, is an area where corrective exercise can be really beneficial.

That’s because applying corrective principles in this way assists in the optimal development of the human body.

When a child’s musculoskeletal system undergoes growth and development, especially in the final phases before adulthood, the process can lead to deviations and imbalances as a natural consequence.

If potential problem areas can be isolated and addressed at this point in time, the results can make the difference between a body addled with all sorts of functional issues and a pure athletic machine.

Senior Training

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have corrective exercise applied to senior or elderly population groups.

This is aimed at improving quality of life, prolonging independence, and increasing “healthspan.”

Healthspan is a term used to describe the functional timespan a human body has throughout its lifetime.

While lifespan describes total lifetime, healthspan describes useful or viable functionality within that timeframe.

Corrective exercise helps seniors or those approaching their elderly years to maintain a degree of self-sufficient functionality into the end phases of their lives.

Being independent and self-sufficient ranks highly on the aspirations of people in their senior years.

As a once independent and capable individual, the decline in functional ability with age can be harrowing and cause tremendous psychological and emotional distress.

Having a comprehensive way to maintain physical function for an extended period through life is an amazing benefit.

Postpartum Training

The postpartum or postnatal phase of motherhood is a very sensitive and precarious time in a woman’s life.

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While joy, love, and hope for the future play a dominant role, there is a significant sense of insecurity and dissatisfaction that often sets in and manifests as postpartum depression.

This is largely due to a hormonal fluctuation but is also a feature of a self-conscious sense of inadequacy regarding a woman’s physical functionality and appearance.

Corrective exercise can be implemented to address many of the issues mothers face during this time.

While a lot of them stem from body image, many of a woman’s insecurities are the result of functional discrepancies.

A common one is a decline in pelvic floor conditioning, typical after childbirth, especially with women who’ve had multiple children.

This disrupts many normal aspects of life, including athletic performance, sexual performance, and urinary continence.

Being able to address such issues in female clients plays a huge role in mental and physical health.

These are just a few examples of scenarios and population groups that can see massive benefit from corrective exercise, but overall, most people have some need for correction.

Pros and Cons of being a Corrective Exercise Specialist

pros and cons

Check below for the pros and cons of becoming a Corrective Exercise Scientist.

As with any career path, there will always be benefits and drawbacks. 

It’s important to understand what you’re getting into when it comes to pursuing a career in corrective exercise.

So let’s take a look at the pros and cons so you can decide if this is the journey for you.


Doesn’t Require Extensive Credentials

One of the benefits of pursuing a career in corrective exercise is that you don’t need any extensive qualifications.

You simply need to certify through an accredited agency.

My top picks for corrective exercise are:

  • NASM
  • ISSA
  • ACE
  • NSCA
  • ACSM

Of this bunch, I would strongly recommend going for a NASM certification.

That’s because the central focus of this institution is corrective exercise.

Any other careers in fitness and sports science require you to qualify with a degree of tons of experience and other supporting credentials.

Helping to Directly Improve Quality of Life

Many professions in fitness offer a valuable in-demand service, but not many are specifically geared towards long-term lifestyle improvement.

That isn’t to say a good personal training or nutrition service cant have long-term effects because they often do.

Rather, I’m saying that these services are very often used as temporary fixes.

For example, while nutrition coaching can lead to lifelong good habits, it is also often just a service used to achieve a singular, temporary goal such as weight loss for an event.

Corrective exercise has far-reaching and prolonged positive effects.

This fact can provide corrective exercise specialists with an elevated sense of purpose and job satisfaction.

Forms a Strong Foundation to Branch Into Other Fields

Because corrective exercise is such a complete approach to biomechanics, kinesiology, and exercise science, it can form a worthy foundation for other branches of exercise science.

Practices such as previously mentioned strength and conditioning and physiotherapy lead significantly on the core principles of corrective exercise.

Having a corrective exercise certification or qualification is often a good way to gain entry as a candidate in many sports science and sports medicine programs.

Of course, you would have to fulfill other criteria, but it is a solid foundation.


Low-Income Prospects

I’ve gone over salary and income in detail in a separate article, so be sure to check it out here.

When it comes to corrective exercise, the salary outlook is comparatively low when contrasted with personal training.

According to several sources such as salary.com, comparably.com, and indeed.com, corrective exercise specialists net an annual average income ranging between $40k to $50k.

For perspective, personal trainers in the United States earn around $62k per year on average.

You would think with such a specialist focus, there would be a much higher value premium.

The problem isn’t the value of the service, it’s all about supply and demand, which brings us to our next con.

Relatively Low Demand

Because corrective exercise is such a narrow focus and nuanced approach to fitness coaching, it doesn’t rank high in terms of popularity with the fitness market.

The fitness market is individuals or consumers who would make purchases from fitness brands and service providers.

Personal trainers, nutrition coaches, yoga, and pilates instructors are the more common service provider categories in the world of health and fitness.

Corrective exercise specialists are only truly sought after by the most knowledgeable or discerning trainees, a number which probably represents a minute portion of the entire market.

when people sense something is wrong with their functionality, they’ll usually seek the help of a physical therapist or a massage therapist as opposed to a corrective exercise coach.

In other words, you would need to know what corrective exercise is and why you need it in order to solicit the services of a corrective exercise specialist.

How To Become A Corrective Exercise Coach

How To Become A Corrective Exercise Coach

Come along as I show you how to become a Corrective Exercise Specialist.

I spoke briefly on the process in terms of certification and which certifications I would suggest.

I also have a full article highlighting the best corrective exercise certifications, which you can check out here.

In essence, to be a corrective exercise specialist, the first thing you need is passion.

Having a passion for human anatomy, biomechanics and kinesiology is your first prerequisite, albeit an informal one.

That’s how I got myself to where I am today, passion.

This thirst for knowledge will naturally lead you down a path of discovery and competence with the principles and practical applications that govern corrective exercise.

While a degree isn’t necessary for this field of exercise science, it can be very beneficial to have.

Going through a degree program such as my Masters in Kinesiology affords you a hands-on, front-row view of all the protocols, methodologies, and scenarios in which effective corrective exercise works.

A degree is also a good way to leverage your reputation with the perception of expertise and dedication, the natural benefits of going through the process of getting a degree.

After realizing your calling and securing the relevant credentials, it’s simply a matter of setting up shop or going on the hunt for employment opportunities.

I have a whole article speaking about the career process of a corrective exercise coach, so be sure to check that out after you’re done here.


Conclusion on CES

There you have it, all the insightful info that you need on who and what a Corrective Exercise Specialist does.

A corrective exercise is a unique approach to fitness.

Not everyone needs to improve their jump shot or shed 20 pounds of body fat, but in some way, whether big or small, almost everyone needs to correct muscle imbalances, deviation, or compensation.

No human body is perfect functionally speaking, nor will it ever be, but corrective exercises such as flexibility or strength training can at least help people achieve a better way of being and doing.

I hope you found this article engaging and informative, If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to drop a line in the comment section below, and I’ll get right to them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)










Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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