What is ‘Prehab’?
Prehab is a proactive approach to avoiding pain and injury. It is the ability to build strength and stability around any vulnerable joints or areas of weakness, while improving mobility, balance and joint function to reduce the risk of injury.
For most elite level athletes there really is no “off” season, but the brief period of time that they do have to recover from the previous season should be when prehab takes place. Before pre-season training even starts, all athletes should undergo a functional movement assessment to check for any muscle imbalances or asymmetries that could lead to injuries during training or game play. Asymmetries between the right and left sides of the body are fairly common, and are the leading cause of injuries. This baseline assessment will give trainers and coaches the information they need to implement any corrective exercises the athlete may need to perform prior to their sport-specific training.
Correcting for Life
How does this information apply to the sedentary “Average Joe” or amateur athlete?
Prehab also helps correct problems created by life outside the gym or playing field. There’s a good chance you spend hours hunched over in front of a computer every day. This lifestyle causes your shoulders to roll forward and tighten. That’s bad enough, but now let’s says that you go out and try to play tennis. Since your shoulders are so tight, they lack the necessary stability and range of motion. Your body has an amazing knack for compensating and using alternative joints and muscles, however, this will ultimately end in overuse injuries and chronic inflammation.
Prehab vs Rehab
It is much easier to prevent an injury than it is to rehab one. Once an injury has occurred, the rate of reoccurrence will increases significantly unless a tailored, clinician-prescribed programme is followed. This is why prehab is starting to play an important role in recovery for surgical patients as well. Studies have found that surgical patients who follow a prehab programme prior to surgery can recover up to 3 times faster than those who do not. For example, strengthening your quads and hamstrings prior to knee surgery will significantly improve not only the surgery, but also the outcome and recovery rates.