You've been training hard for years, and now you're starting to get little niggles that just won't go away. Or maybe you play sports and are fed up with frequent injuries such as ankle sprains. Seem familiar?
As we demand more from our bodies, our risk of injury increases. And, if we're always performing similar movements, then any deviation off that path may leave us weak and subject to injury.
For example, following a push/pull/legs split for 6 months will no doubt see you make gains, but your lateral stability will be questionable – leaving your ankles and knees open to potential issues. Or maybe you're shoulder press 1RM has doubled, but you're having rotator cuff issues...
Prehab aims to prevent injuries rather than fix them, preparing muscles and joints to the best of our ability and increasing our chances of avoiding injury.
What Is Prehab?
Prehab, also known as prehabilitation, is the opposite of rehab and aims to prevent injuries. Known as a proactive method of conditioning that is designed to build resilience in the body to prevent injury, prehab aims to strengthen common injury sites in the body, such as the rotator cuff or ACL.
Prehab is not about lifting heavy weights or high volume. Instead, the aim of prehab is to develop stability through the major joints in the body, develop the core, and improve strength through a full range of movement.
What Is The Aim Of Prehab?
Naturally, many of us try to fix niggles and injuries, but by then, it's too late, and these setbacks hinder our physical abilities.
The aim of prehab is to prevent our bodies from injury before it happens.
By strengthening and improving flexibility in muscles, ligaments, and tendons – our bodies can be best prepared to withstand exercise and sport, reducing the injury risk and keeping athletes on track with their training goals.
Benefits Of Prehab Training
So you're probably thinking that incorporating some elements of prehab into your training may be a good idea? After all, nobody likes being injured.
Set backs will always happen in one way or another, but by including prehab within our training we may be able to see some great benefits.
5 Benefits Of Including Prehab In Your Training:
Reduce risk of injury.
Avoid training regression due to rehabilitation.
Increase skill and reaction based movements.
Improve joint range of movement.
Positive carry-over impact on strength and power.
What Are Prehab Exercises?
Prehab exercises are designed to challenge an athlete in core strength, stability, and movement, and therefore exercises can vary greatly dependent on the athlete's discipline or previous injuries.
From balance boards and resistance band exercises to more complex multi-plane movements to prepare the body for more complex exercises or sporting demands.
For example, developing shoulder joint strength and stability will have a positive affect on overhead press movements or olympic lifts.
Here are five examples of prehab exercises:
Banded Face Pull (shoulder joint strength)
Single-Leg Balance Board Ball Catch (stability)
Banded Terminal Knee Extension (knee & quadriceps strength)
Cossack Squat (hip mobility and lower body strength)
DB plank Rotations (core stability and shoulder strength)
When To Prehab?
With prehab being a preventative approach to sports injury, it should be included as part of your regular training to reduce the chance of acute or chronic injury.
Often, it will take many setbacks from injury to motivate individuals to consider including prehab exercises within their training program, but you don't have to wait to get started.
Were are three ways to incorporate prehab into your training:
Include them in your rest or deload days
Make them part of your warm-up or cool-down.
Create a targeted approach based on your previous injuries or weaknesses.
However you decide to incorporate prehab into your training, it's important to have a structure with gradual progression to always provide a challenge, just like any other training program.
How To Get Started With Prehab
Although creating your own prehab training program can be straightforward, seeking the guidance of a sports therapist should help you get the most from your prehabilitation program.
Here are five simple steps to getting started with a prehab program:
Identify your performance requirements and goals.
Consider your previous injuries and/or common injuries within your sport, this is best done through a screening process with a professional sport therapist.
Create a prehab program of 3-5 exercises to help you meet your performance requirements.
Repeat these exercises 3-4 times per week, focusing on gradual progression.
Evaluate development and introduce new exercises to your prehab program if necessary.
As always, it's best recommended to seek the guidance of a professional. Working with someone who understands prehabilitation into sport and exercise and its implementation within training will help better your chances of avoiding injury.
So, you've got the benefits of including prehab training in your fitness regime along with how you can get started with implementing prehab exercises within your current workouts. Now it's time to build that resilience and put a prehab training program in place.
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WRITTEN BY: CHRIS BECK
Chris Beck is Senior Editor at Gymshark, with a passion for writing informative conditioning, health and fitness tech content. Chris is an avid gym-goer and ex-international athlete, holds qualifications in Personal Training, Nutrition, and Sports Performance, and is a certified Crossfit Level 1 Trainer.
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