There’s no doubt that the way we view fitness has changed over the last few years. Far from being a chore, to many of us working out forms part of our social lives too.
This is a positive change as we are more likely to stick to an exercise plan if it fits into our lives and has social benefits too.
But it also means when we get injured we don’t just miss out on training, we also miss out on hanging with part of our social circle.
This is just one of the reasons the concept of ‘prehab’ has taken off.
Instead of ‘rehab’ when resting and recovery with an injury are the order of the day and we are in agony too, prehab factors in that much needed recovery element before we are hurt. Which means no pain – all the gains!
It’s very easy to get hooked on the endorphins and feel the need to work out daily.
“The rise in individual participation in exercise and enhanced interest in health and fitness has sky rocketed in recent years,” explains CHHP Osteopath and BXR London Strength & Conditioning Trainer Doug Tannahill.
“Not only are people opting to spend more of their spare time working out, they are doing it with more vigour and enjoyment than ever before. Exercising has almost become a form of socialising and an important part of everyday life for a growing number of people.”
If you are working to a goal or having fun then surely getting as much exercise as possible is a good idea? Wrong. Over training and training when muscles are tired is one of the biggest causes of injury.
And when you are injured getting better again can take a while.
Prehab factors in rest and active rest into your schedule. “It is important to ensure that you adopt a balanced exercise programme, incorporating appropriate recovery time and low -impact exercise and mobility to prevent injury,” says Doug.
Prehab also looks at the muscle imbalances, which we all have, which could set you up for serious injury and reduce your ability to get the most out of your training.
Making sure you do some simple exercises before working out and factoring in rest days will make sure you aren’t laid up as easily. The ultimate goal of prehab is to improve the body’s overall function.
Everyone can benefit from adding prehab exercises to their warm ups.
First up remember that you have come to the gym or your exercise class with some muscle tension already.
Muscle imbalances change the way we load our joints and also how we move.
This then throws our entire body off balance and causes problems in other areas. It is therefore helpful to incorporate prehab into your routine no matter what your chosen sport.
For Doug there is one type of work-out which he does think has a higher level of injury than others so needs to be balanced with a decent prehab regime.
“High intensity training sessions have becoming increasingly popular,” he explains.
“Contrary to popular belief, these HIIT classes are not always for beginners, yet many people jump straight in using them as their sole mode of training with little or no previous experience or induction.
“Many people also become hooked on this form of exercise all too quickly, with some ‘class junkies’ even performing two or more classes per day, leaving the body with very little time for recovery, which is extremely important.”
Loosening and balancing the body are the order of the day as well as making sure you don’t over train and take rest days seriously by actually resting!
Starting a work out with a few minutes of foam rolling to release knots and even out muscle tension throughout the body.
When using a foam roller, apply your own body weight for pressure, move backwards and forwards gently and slowly rolling over any tight spots for 30 – 60 seconds.
If the tension eases then apply a little more weight to the area and deepen the massage. This preps the body and then a series of stretches which help open out and increase rotation and range of motion in the joints compliment this.
When we are more balanced we are less likely to sustain injury so prehab exercises focus on stability and mobility training for the entire body, with extra attention on injury-prone areas such as the shoulders, core and hips.
The most common types of stretch and movement in prehab relate to the movements we are likely to perform most in our everyday lives as well as while exercising.
Bend and lift movements e.g. squats
Rotational movements e.g. woodchops
Single-leg movements e.g. lunges
Pushing movements e.g. push-ups
Pulling movements e.g. rows
Developing efficient and safe movement patterns through our body will also decrease the likelihood of pain and injury.
It’s great to prep the body before ever bout of sport we do so consider prehab as your warm up.
Also don’t skip the cool down which again can repeat these movements and the foam rollering.
It’s also important to make sure your positioning and form is spot on. If you can ask a trainer to spot for you from time to time and check your posture, or get someone to film you performing the stretches, you can make adjustments.
We are more likely to get into bad habits because we are off-balance – which is even more reason to do the exercises!
Also remember that rest is as important as the exercises.
Try not to do two work outs in 12hrs and allow at least two days a week to rest. Also try and find balance in your schedule. Make sure there are some more controlled strength building and aligning exercises like Pilates and yoga in your week as well as cardio and some gentle weights.