We know that many runners visit a physiotherapist when they are injured. Do you know that a physio can help you even before injury strikes?
We ask Ying Rong, co-founder and senior physiotherapist at The Rehab Lab to tell us about prehabilitation.
What is prehabilitation?
Prehabilitation is about the prevention of injuries. It refers to a proactive approach model of care that encourages people to work on their underlying weaknesses and imbalances even before injuries happen. There are 3 components to manage as part of a complete prehabilitation program.
- Volume of load (amount of running)
This refers to your activity level. This includes any physical stress placed upon your body. For example, the number of kilometres you run per week, or daily activities like walking to the bus stop or prolonged standing at work, can play a part here.
- Type of load
Type of load refers to the activity type that you undergo. For example, do you do more sprinting than slow distance running? Do you do stairs climbing or brisk walking on flat ground? The type of exercise you do will bias certain energy systems and certain muscular groups.
- Muscular imbalances
Muscular imbalances refer to strength imbalances between the right and left sides of the body and also within the same side of the body as well – for example, you may be a lot stronger in your calves and quadriceps but relatively weaker in your core and glutes.
We need to strike a balance among all 3 components to stay injury-free. You do not need a perfectly symmetrical body or a perfect movement pattern. You just need to be strong enough for the volume of exercise and type of exercise that you do.
To illustrate with an example:
Girl A (sedentary) – does not do any exercise:
Girl A has very poor movement patterns but does not feel any pain simply because the amount of loading (which is close to 0 in her case) matches the type of loading (low intensity walking). Therefore, she has no symptoms despite sub-optimal movement patterns.
Girl B (runs 3-4 times a week and thinking about increasing to 5-6 times a week):
Girl B has better movement patterns but the amount of loading she undergoes is a lot higher than girl A. She will need a more optimal movement pattern and less muscular asymmetries in order to cope with a higher volume of loading. If she increases the volume of loading (exercise volume) without working on her loading / movement patterns, her injury risk increases.
Who will benefit from prehab?
Modern living requires one to undertake a certain volume of physical stress. Prolonged standing or sitting places certain demands on our postural muscles. Even a sedentary individual can benefit from optimising his movement patterns and reduce the likelihood of random aches and pains.
Go further and faster with prehab
Prehabilitation is simply about getting you to move better with improved muscular strength in the right areas, specific to the type and volume of activity that you undergo. As you reach for bigger goals, minimising muscular imbalances will go a long way in preventing injuries and supporting your training.
About Ying Rong
Ying Rong is the co-founder and senior physiotherapist at The Rehab Lab.
The Rehab Lab was established with the notion of providing evidence-based injury prevention and rehabilitation treatment methods. Ying specialises in running gait analysis and running injury prevention.
She is also an accomplished runner with a national half marathon record set at the 2016 Gyeongju Cherry Blossom, where she came in as the champion.