Prehab vs. Rehab

In many of my previous posts I have discussed our body’s anatomy, how injuries occur, and then how to recover from those injuries. Today I want to take the time to discuss how to prevent those injuries from happening in the first place!

Prehab is a pretty common term in the healthcare and physical therapy fields and is now starting to make its way into the fitness industry. Trainers and coaches are starting to realize the importance of not only sport-specific training for their athletes, but functional prehab training to ensure their athletes remain injury-free throughout the season.

For most elite level athletes there really is no “off” season, but the brief period of time that they do have to recover from the previous season should be when prehab takes place. Before pre-season training even starts, all athletes should undergo a functional movement assessment to check for any muscle imbalances or asymmetries that could lead to injuries during training or game play. This baseline assessment will give the trainer/coach the information they need to implement any corrective exercises the athlete may need to perform prior to their sport-specific training.

How does this information apply to the “Average Joe” non-elite level athlete? Well, really anyone who is active should get an assessment from a certified professional who can properly diagnose movement impairments and design a corrective exercise program. Asymmetries between the right and left sides of the body are fairly common, and are the leading cause of injuries.

It is much easier to prevent an injury than it is to rehab one. Once an injury has occurred, the recurrence rate of injury increases significantly! Thus, prehab is starting to play an important role in recovery for surgical patients as well. Studies have found that surgical patients who participate in prehab training prior to surgery can recover up to 3 times faster than those who do not.

Over the summer I was lucky enough to attend a seminar with a physical therapist and trainer from EXOS (Core Performance) who gave a great lecture on the importance of prehab as part of  an overall training program for injury-prevent and recovery. The EXOS website has great tips for getting started with a prehab program:

So, for you athletes who have never been through a movement screen, I strongly suggest getting an assessment… you’ll probably be surprised at what you find. And for you trainers and coaches who are not familiar with the FMS (Functional Movement Screen), I highly recommend getting certified or working with a colleague who is to ensure your clients are working at their highest potential with minimal risk of injury.


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