We’ve all heard of rehabilitation, the specialized care and training intended to restore physical strength, mobility, and conditioning after a surgery, injury, or illness. Physical rehab can help you to get back in shape after long periods of forced inactivity. But did you know that “prehab” may be a more effective solution in the long run?
“Prehab”, or prehabilitation, is a new concept in therapy and sports medicine. It’s a proactive approach to reduce the risk of injuries among athletes and resistance trainees.
Simply put, prehab focuses on the “trouble areas” in an athlete’s body, the muscles, joints, and tissues that are most prone to injuries. Prehab also compensates for repetitive movements and the stresses of regular training. Any sort of training—be it sport-specific, running, cycling, weightlifting, CrossFit, or even Yoga—has some sort of repetitive movements that can lead to injuries over the long term. Prehab is intended to strengthen the body to prevent these injuries.
As an example, take a look at any sport-specific training program. Most professional athletes undergo a lot of training to develop both their lower and upper body, but less attention is paid to the core. This can lead to spinal injuries, as well as reduced mobility of the lower back and hips. A prehab protocol would pay extra attention to these areas. After developing more strength and mobility in the area at large, the protocol would focus on movements that improve conditioning in a way that will benefit athletes for their sport in particular. Thus, the athlete develops better strength and mobility, which translates into a reduced risk of injury and better performance in their sport of choice.
There are three parts of your body that tend to be highly imbalanced. First, most people pay a lot of attention to their thighs, but their hamstrings receive far less attention. This can lead to hip and lower back problems. Second, the chest gets a lot of attention as a glamor muscle, but the upper back and rear shoulder muscles can be neglected. This can lead to shoulder problems as well as spinal deformities and a permanent hunch, not to mention reduced shoulder mobility. Finally, the abs get a lot of attention, but the lower back doesn’t receive focused training to strength and reduce spinal injuries.
The “pre” part of “prehab” refers to the fact that you engage in this type of training before sustaining injuries. It’s intended to prevent future injuries rather than focusing on repairing current damage. By focusing on the imbalances, you can correct deficiencies before they become serious or lead to injuries.
1. “Prehab to Avoid Rehab – Sports Injury Prevention Begins with Prehab“, Elizabeth Quinn, Verywell.com, Updated April 21, 2016.
2. “Start Prehab to Avoid Rehab“, Stew Smith, Military.com Fitness Center.