We've been seeing more and more talk about 'prehab' in movement circles lately so we decided to have a chat with Osteopath Luke Selby about what that actually means and the different ways that we can incorporate it into our physical activities and lives:
Hey there Luke, can you start off by telling us what 'prehab' is exactly?
At Fix we really live by the mantra that 'Prevention is better that cure'. Prehab is about addressing any imbalances in your body and making sure you're strong and stable so that you can get ahead of any injuries before they occur. It's all about knowing your body and working at your physical best.
The Fix team can help assess any functions deficits you may have; build strength and stability around vulnerable areas; and improve mobility, balance and flexibility to decrease your chance of being injured. Each person's prehab will be different - sometimes it's helping correct a slight niggle before it develops into a full-blown injury, at other times we help with boosting performance for a committed athlete preparing for an event, or guiding someone when they take up a new physical activity.
So what can Fix do to help people to get more 'prehab' into their life?
Initially, we usually start with an assessment with one of our Physios or Osteopaths to discuss your individual needs and work out the plan that's right for you. Our mission is to get the people we work with to understand more about their own bodies and give them tools to improve. When someone feels something new - and empowering - for the first time, it's kind of like a light being shone into a place that was previously dark. And when the lightbulb goes on they're totally bought into their own journey to getting better, faster.
Building the capacity for truly functional movement is where our bodies operate most happily. We might suggest some Clinical Strength & Conditioning to pinpoint any vulnerable areas and then help you build strength and increase your mobility.
We're also big on movement as a therapy in itself, and not just a means to an end. So our approach to both Yoga and Pilates - either 1:1 or in dedicated small group classes - will help increase flexibility, build stability around your core, and improve strength and balance. These are all important factors in injury prevention, not to mention the health benefits of helping combat stress, anxiety and a range of long term systemic health conditions.
For runners, we have one-off running assessments or more comprehensive preventative training packages, which will help you get out in front of injury by catching any weaknesses in your gait and show you how to literally run your problems out, and to train smarter for better results.
Sometimes there are underlying hormonal, environmental or lifestyle factors that also come into play. In fact, let's face it, in the modern world there's almost always this stuff in the background, holding us back. Often people seek the help of one of our acupuncturists to help find deeper balance, or manage some short term pain.
Nutritional Therapy and advice can be an invaluable piece of the plan as well - it's definitely true that 'we are what we eat'! It's amazing to see people get some guidance on their diet - the when, how and what of their nutrition - and watch their results sky-rocket.
So is this just for marathon runners and sports people? Who really benefits from 'prehabbing'?
Gosh. Injury prevention and striving to be our best selves is something we all need to think about. We have one body to live our whole life with and keeping it supple and strong is how we make sure it lasts us all the way through!
It's really so varied. We've worked with a range of elite and professional athletes preparing for everything from channel swims, to desert marathons, and from football and rugby tournaments to skiers and snowboarders. But to be honest we get just as much of a kick helping an older person get up and moving again, realising that their world can open up again in ways they maybe felt were no longer possible. Or it might be a teen or tween has a concern around their growth or development that their parents, coaches or teachers can't quite get to the bottom of. Working with them to address something BEFORE it becomes an issue later in life is a real joy.
Occasionally it's the case that people do need to have a surgery, and in these instances we work with them to get as fit and strong as possible before the operation. That way their recovery will most likely be quicker, less problematic and more enjoyable.
So yes, prehab is important for people who are using their body intensively - like marathon runners, climbers or professional dancers - but it’s also for people with desk jobs, or those who have a little niggle that isn’t yet an injury but could become one, or for anyone who is getting older (which we guess means all of us!).