The role of prehabilitation (prehab) in physio

You’ve probably heard of rehab – the recovery process after an injury or surgery – but have you heard of prehab?

Prehabilitation or prehab refers to the physical preparation of the body in order to reduce the chance of injury and improve your chances of a speedy recovery. But it isn’t just used in one scenario: prehab can take on a number of forms.

In the sporting world, prehab can be used as a way to build up strength in preparation for an event such as a marathon or the start of the football season. In these cases, your physio will normally perform a gait analysis and a full body MOT to help create a personalised prehab plan that will ensure you get the most out of the event and stay injury-free. Prehab can also be used for general injury prevention for avid fitness fanatics or gym goers who are looking to take their training to the next level

Outside of sports injury prevention, prehab is often prescribed to someone having surgery. A carefully designed prehab programme can have a number of benefits for someone undergoing elective surgery, including:

  • Reducing the length of time that you’ll be required to stay in hospital
  • Reducing the chance of post-surgery complications
  • Less pain
  • And overall, a faster and smoother recovery

At Spectrum, our personalised prehab plans are designed to optimise the efficiency of the operation, by helping to stabilise, mobilise and protect the relevant area of the body and equip you for the operation by reducing limb swelling, restoring joint motion and boosting muscular strength.

But we don’t just help you get as physically fit and strong as possible before the operation – we also help you to prepare mentally by supporting you with expert advice on the surgical procedure, so you know what to expect when you’re recovering.

A prehab case study: Laura’s knee replacements

Laura is a long-time client of Spectrum’s and has been treated by both head physios Rob and Ant, as well as other members of the Spectrum team along her journey.

Laura had always suffered from knee pain, and finally in 2019 she went to see a surgeon recommended by Spectrum who told her there was nothing to be done except have a total knee replacement on both knees.

“It was at this time I realised that the most important thing I could do was to work with Rob and Ant on a prehab programme to keep strengthening my knees before the operation,” explains Laura.

I chose to delay my operation for about a year, so throughout 2019 I worked with Spectrum on my strength. They helped me reduce the swelling in my knees by using a combination of the GameReady ice/compression treatment and some manual interventions. But the biggest thing we focused on was getting my legs strong.

I learned that your glutes are super important in making sure that you’ve got good stability through the knee, and so I had a lot of glute exercises to do, as well as strengthening my hamstrings and quads. I was quite diligent and tried to do them four or five times a week and it made a real difference.

Once Laura finally had her surgery, she found that the surgeon and hospital physios were all really impressed with her ability to recover and get started with rehab exercises straight after the surgery.

“I went to a rehab program for a couple of weeks and the physios there were really impressed at my ability to recover, they said that it was unusual to see somebody able to do the exercises as quickly as I could, and I put that down to the muscle strength from prehab. It was purely due to the diligent prehab and the work Rob and Ant had done.”

I’ve now had both knees replaced over the course of the last year and have been having physio at least three times a week. Exercise form is hugely important and the manual intervention does help to ease the swelling but it’s really building up strength that’ll help you recover. Rob and Ant have really guided me through that process and given me the right exercises and progressed it through the period of the recovery and I’m now very much getting back to full strength.

“My goal is to start running again within the next six months, but that would have been completely impossible unless I’d done prehab going in to surgery and then rehab coming out of it.”

If you’re planning on having surgery, or just want to ensure you stay fit and healthy in your sporting endeavours, a personalised prehab plan from Spectrum will help your overall physical and mental health and set you up for a faster and smoother recovery.

Get in touch to find out more or book an initial appointment with our team via our website

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