Written by Nora Salem - Sydney West Sports Medicine
What the “Prehab”?
You may have heard of the term rehabilitation, which refers to the process of restoring normal function, health and movement after an injury or surgery.
This probably brings up images of ice, crutches and walking frames, a bunch of physios and nurses to aid someone in their recovery.
But have you heard of the buzzword “prehab”?
What is Prehab?
Prehabilitation, or “prehab” for short, can refer to one of two things.
- The process of optimizing the health, range of motion and strength of a body part before it goes under the knife for surgery. For example, this is often the case before ACL reconstructive surgery, where athletes attend a number of physio sessions prior to surgery to regain as much of their pre-injury function as possible, to accelerate recovery after surgery.
- A program of exercises, practices and routines—including optimal sleep, nutrition and supplementation and recovery strategies—that prevent you from getting injured and needing rehabilitation in the first place!
A prehab exercise program is a fully personalized program aimed at addressing any limitations in strength, coordination, range of motion or skill before the onset of a diagnosable injury. This saves you the time, effort, stress and expense of struggling to get better when you’re in pain, swollen or having to take time off after an acute injury.
Why do I need it?
Although some people spout “no pain, no gain!” that isn’t always the right mindset. It’s much better to get any small niggles or pains assessed by a professional early on, and get some tailored exercises to treat them before they turn into an ‘injury’ that may affect your ability to function.
What can it prevent?
Some clubs and teams use evidence-based programs such as FIFA11+ for soccer, KNEE program for Netball or the Preparation to Perform program for Rugby League which have been proven to reduce the risk of injury, particularly ACL and other knee ligament injuries, which can leave YOU out of sport for close to a year!
(Al Attar 2017; Ancliff, 2017 )
Research over a massive population of athletes from a variety of sports have shown that the inclusion of the Nordic Hamstring Exercise (pictured below) has been proven to halve the rate of hamstring strains in sport! (van Dyk et al., 2019)
Exercises aiming to strengthen your inner thigh and groin muscles, like the adductor plank (pictured below) can reduce the risk of groin muscle strains by up to 20%.
(Esteve, Rathleff, Bagur-Calafat, Urrútia & Thorborg, 2015)
Whilst there has been research done in the above areas, the principles of prehab are applicable everywhere, so even though we don’t have hard research to back it up, prehab programs can be extremely effective in reducing injuries in all areas of the body.
To have a prehab exercise program tailor made for you and for your sport, visit one of our experienced physiotherapists or exercise physiologists today!
If Gymnastics is your sport, then Sydney West Sports Medicine have exercise physiologists and physiotherapists with an in-depth knowledge of gym sports and often work with athletes for prehab throughout the competition season. Luke Anderson (Physiotherapist) and Dinora De Venuti (Exercise Physiologist) run regular seminars on the role of a strength and conditioning and injury prevention in gymnastics. Keep an eye out for our next event on our website.
Al Attar, W., Soomro, N., Pappas, E., Sinclair, P., & Sanders, R. (2017). Adding a post-training FIFA 11+ exercise program to the pre-training FIFA 11+ injury prevention program reduces injury rates among male amateur soccer players: a cluster-randomised trial. Journal Of Physiotherapy, 63(4), 235-242. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2017.08.004
Ancliff, A. (2017). Netball Australia invited – KNEE program. Journal Of Science And Medicine In Sport, 20, e6-e7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2016.12.018
Coaching Manual. (2019). Fifa Warm Up [Image]. Retrieved from https://app.thecoachingmanual.com/Session/1798
Esteve, E., Rathleff, M., Bagur-Calafat, C., Urrútia, G., & Thorborg, K. (2015). Prevention of groin injuries in sports: a systematic review with meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal Of Sports Medicine, 49(12), 785-791. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-094162
ProHealth. (2019). Nordic Hamstring [Image]. Retrieved from http://prohealthphysio.com.au/exercises/nordic-hamstring-curl/
Vahva Fitness. (2019). Adductor Plank [Image]. Retrieved from https://www.vahvafitness.com/adductor-plank-inner-thigh-exercise/
van Dyk, N., Behan, F., & Whiteley, R. (2019). Including the Nordic hamstring exercise in injury prevention programmes halves the rate of hamstring injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 8459 athletes. British Journal Of Sports Medicine, bjsports-2018-100045. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-100045