With the weather in Vancouver finally starting to warm-up and we head into a long awaited summer, many of you will be heading outdoors for exercise, sports, and various activities around the city. This is great, but those of you planning to start an outdoor exercise regimen or join a sport for the summer could be at risk. Long winters normally lead to decreased activity levels, which then leads to weak/tight muscles or joints that aren’t necessarily ready for the demands placed on them during a long run on cement or a 90-minute soccer game. This leads me to the purpose of today’s article: What is Prehab and why is it important?
What is Prehab (prehabilitation)?
I’m sure you are aware of the term rehabilitation, which is basically the act of injury recovery by using a combination of active and passive treatment protocols. What if you could prevent injury before it occurred? Enter prehabilitation: the catch phrase used to describe a series of exercises or routines designed to correct muscle imbalances and prevent injury. This is very commonly used with professional athletes as an ongoing routine to be performed in order to reduce injury risk through a competitive season; however, anyone, even a sedentary individual can benefit from a personalized prehab routine.
The greatest areas of risk for pain or injury associated with muscle imbalances are the shoulders, lower back, and knees. Taking part in sports, running, or hiking, for example propose an increased risk for pain and injury if the body is not properly aligned and prepared. To give an example, let’s take a look at the pelvis. There are four main muscle groups that work to hold the pelvis in a neutral position: the hip flexors, gluteals, abs, and lower back muscles. When one of these muscle groups is more weak or tight than the rest, a muscular imbalance will occur in the pelvis. This is because the other muscles will be forced to compensate in attempt to maintain a neutral pelvis, especially during activity. Over time this compensation leads to pain, stiffness, and injury in not only muscles surrounding the pelvis, but the knees and ankles are now at risk also. These joints and surrounding tissues will compensate to try and keep the body in alignment while walking, running, sitting leading to further muscle imbalances in the lower body and further risk of injury. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t go write an exam without studying first right? Think of prehab in the same way, before taking part in vigorous exercise you must first prepare your body.
Fitness professional’s or other medical professionals such as physiotherapists, massage therapists, or chiropractors can perform a full body assessment in order to point out specific muscle imbalances in your body that could potentially lead to acute or chronic injury somewhere down the line. They can then formulate a set of basic exercises and stretches to be performed on a regular basis to improve posture, fix any muscle imbalances, and help you have a pain-free summer!
Email Michelle@CORE-Condition.com for more information about prehabilitation or to book in for an assessment to get your own personalized routine.
Michelle Roots BA KIN, CSCS, PES