Prehab – What Is It and How Can You Incorporate It

Surgery can be a big and scary experience for many people. Whether the operation is a major one or a minor one it nevertheless is daunting for many people. The feelings of fear can be attributed to the outcome of the procedure, the unknowingness of what may happen, and recovery. Although many factors are out of our control there is one thing that we can do to give us a sense of security and reassurance. Prehabilitation can be performed in order to increase our ability to recover. Studies have shown many positives with performing prehabilitation protocols prior to exercise.

Prehab is essentially almost like rehab in the sense that it is performed to strengthen the body, improve flexibility, and enhance functional capabilities like range of motion and stamina. The main difference about prehab is that it is done before a surgical procedure helping you to recover quickly as opposed to having not done anything (there are a few things that may limit an individual from performing exercise due to an injury).

Prehab assists with your recovery as it boosts your joint/ muscular health; essentially upgrading your fitness prior to the procedure. The fitter you are prior to surgery, the more likely you are to rehab much faster. Multiple studies have shown that people who do prehab get back to their activities faster and easier. So why not do it? In addition to recovering quicker, prehab can reduce post-operative pain, reduce complications and even shorten hospital stays. Surgeons and physical therapists can use a patient’s prehab levels to better understand their physical abilities and limitations to better design and guide the implementation of rehab and setting more realistic post-operative goals. It is obvious that the benefits of prehab are extensive but to take advantage of these benefits, the patient must start prehab at least six weeks before the procedure

Some great examples with clients we have worked with in the past:

-Hip arthroscopy for impingement: A client of ours had nagging hip pain brought on by the disposition of his hip joint. You can look into ‘camshaft’ or ‘hip cam’ if you are curious. In any case, his training was modified in a way so that he can focus on getting as strong as possible while not limiting his sport performance. In addition, we manipulated calories so that he was able to perform well in the gym and on the field. In under 6 months post op, our client has gained 75% of function with low levels of discomfort.

-ACL and meniscal tear: We tend to work with many cases of knee pain and soccer/ futbol players. One client we worked with had essentially been sidelined. His soccer performance had gone down the drain and they were only working on their upper body. This is common, however it goes against the recommendations for prehab. Thus, incorporating exercises that he was comfortable with were necessary. You might have heard that squats are terrible for the knees; this is not the case (only some cases). In any case, this individual was guided with heavy goblet squats, leg curls, range of motion movements and sled work plus a few more movements. Long-story short, he avoided surgery, got back to his pre-injury level of performance and was stronger than ever. Not everyone is lucky in these situations; there are definitely many factors to consider but this example highlights the need to focus on the injury and avoid the avoidance behaviours.

Also, click here to check out our post on meniscal pain POST-OP (coming soon).

All in all, there should be more emphasis on prehab and should be taken just as seriously as rehab (post-op). Doing prehab is a cost effective way to accelerate the recovery process. Recovery time is a big concern for many people as they do not want to be bed bound for long periods of time.

We strive to getting you back to doing what you love as quickly as possible. Book an assessment with us to see if our prehab program is right for you.

Authors: Isis Camargo (UofT 4th Year Kinesiology Student) and Shaneh-Abbas Jaffer (R. Kin).

Published by Shaneh-Abbas @ Myofiber

Registered Kinesiologist Personal Trainer Over 10 years of training experience in a variety of settings. Online trainer since 2017

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