Avoid Injury with Prehab
Prehab is a proactive approach to avoiding pain and injury. You’ll build strength and stability around your most vulnerable areas, while improving mobility, balance and joint function to decrease the potential for injuries.
How Prehab Works
Prehab exercises strengthen your most vulnerable areas that get stressed in everyday movement: your hips, core and shoulders. Also known as your “pillar,” strengthening these areas will improve posture and alignment, allowing your joints to move more efficiently. You’ll also build up your most injury-prone areas before you’re struck with chronic aches and pain that may, in the worst cases, require surgery.
Correcting for Life
Prehab also helps correct problems created by life outside the gym or playing field. There’s a good chance you spend hours hunched over in front of a computer every day. This lifestyle causes your shoulders to roll forward and tighten. That’s bad enough, but now let’s say that you go out and try to play tennis. Since your shoulders are so tight, they lack the necessary stability and range of motion. Your body has a knack for compensating, however, and you end up using more of your elbows when you swing the racquet. That, combined with the poor joint alignment caused by your poor posture at work, could produce a nasty case of tennis elbow or rotator cuff issues.
With prehab, you’ll strengthen the muscles supporting your upper back and shoulder rotators. This improves your posture by pulling your shoulder blades back and down. The shoulder joint’s ball and socket will move freely and efficiently, as it was designed to do. You’ll feel the difference in every aspect of your life.
Preparing for Sport
Sitting at a desk all day also puts undue stress on your lower back and inevitably affects your core. After a long day on the job, it’s difficult, if not potentially harmful, to go out and do something that requires strength in your torso without first “waking it up.”
Lots of sitting also causes hips to become locked down and less mobile. The hips support the pelvis and have more musculature attached to them than any other joints in the body. We want to make sure your hips have exceptional mobility and stability so that they can keep your pelvis in alignment. Prehab movements work on this area.
When To Do It
Perform prehab two to six times a week. You can do it at home when you wake up or at any point during your workout, but it's best performed near the start of a training session. Many of these movements can be done with no equipment so there’s no excuse not to take 5 minutes of your day to do it. You owe it to yourself to find the time—it’s one of the best investments you can make in your long term health.
Here’s how all this preemptive protection of your shoulders, lower back, and hips ultimately improves your life: About 65 percent of injuries—both athletic and lifestyle related—come from overuse, which is to say from repetitive use of joints that are rendered dysfunctional by muscular imbalances. Since prehab addresses the muscular imbalances that lead to injuries, it helps prevent many of the lower-back injuries, shoulder-joint problems and hamstring pulls, for instance.
The other 35 percent of injuries are caused by trauma. If you run into a wall or take a tumble on the ski slope, something is likely to break, regardless of how carefully you’ve followed your Core Performance training program. Still, prehab and the other components of your training plan can improve your chances. Maybe, because of your balance and stability, you won’t tumble at all. Maybe you’ll tumble but not suffer as hard a fall as you would have before training. Professional skiers, for example, can walk away from nasty falls that would leave out-of-shape skiers paralyzed or even dead, because the pros have developed stability, elasticity and strength. And even if you do fall and get hurt, your conditioned body should recover faster from the injury.
Once you’ve built pillar strength through your prehab routine, you’ve gone a long way toward creating a body that’s capable of remarkable movement and, more important, is resistant to injury and long-term deterioration.
Start performing prehab movements today for your upper body, lower body, and pillar strength. Here are a few sample moves to help you get started:
- Verstegen, Mark, and Pete Williams. Core Performance: the revolutionary workout program to transform your body and your life. Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 2004.
- Verstegen, Mark, and Pete Williams. Core Performance Essentials: the revolutionary nutrition and exercise plan adapted for everyday use. Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 2006.