Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a full-time professional athlete, you know you’re going to be taking your body to its functional limits. But is your body ready for that challenge? Undetected weakness and vulnerabilities could prime you for a devastating injury. If you’re already injured or fresh out of surgery, leaping into physical therapy could do you more harm than good, especially if you’ve been sedentary for some time. Fortunately, there’s an initial stage you can take to prepare for a speedier, safer recovery. It’s called “pre-hab,” and you can arrange to receive it by contacting our physical therapist today.
If you went directly from being a couch potato who had never done any exercise to competing in a triathlon, you’d find yourself in a lot of trouble – and not just in terms of finishing the event. A body that isn’t conditioned to perform the specific tasks demanded of it is very likely to sustain damage, from the inflammation of tendonitis to major muscle tears and ruptures. Even training for a demanding sport can put you at risk of injury if you haven’t pre-conditioned your body to handle specific motions and weight loads.
The same concerns hold true for anyone looking to undergo physical therapy. A major injury or surgical procedure can leave you sidelined for weeks or months. During that time, joints may stiffen up, while muscles and connective tissues can atrophy. A classic example is the condition known as “frozen shoulder,” in which a long-immobilized arm experiences severe shoulder stiffness.
A complete lack of activity while you’re getting over your immediate damage may even promote the development of internal scar tissue called adhesions. These adhesions can limit muscle motion and leave you in chronic pain. These kinds of issues can make the move into physical therapy not only unhelpful but downright dangerous.
Pre-hab serves as a critical preparatory stage for getting your body ready for its next challenge, from physical therapy to athletic training. Core training is critical to pre-hab. The core muscles of your pelvic, lower abdomen and lower back maintain your body’s balance and stability – without which you’re more likely to injure yourself. Exercises to strengthen and mobilize the upper back are also helpful in pre-hab, giving your body a solid degree of overall stability before moving on to other exercises.
Pre-hab exercises also involve working on the repetitive motions common to your chosen activity, from throwing a javelin to lifting weights. Our physical therapist will select specific exercises aimed at preparing your body for this “new normal.” You can then pursue your athletic training without hurting yourself or complete the rest of your physical therapy more quickly.
Even non-athletes are constantly performing the physical activities of daily living, from doing office work to handling household chores. A body with uneven muscle development is a target for overuse injuries and repetitive motion disorders such as plantar fasciitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder bursitis and other complaints. Pre-hab exercises can help people in these risk groups optimize their fitness and prevent such injuries. If you’re planning surgery, a pre-hab program from our physical therapist can make post-operative recovery faster and easier.