Everyone seems to be talking about prehab (FYI it’s short for prehabilitation) these days. So what is it? Think incorporating rehab-like exercises into your routine before you get hurt. Experts are banking on it now more than ever, in light of new data showing that athletes who specialised in one sport were 85 per cent more likely to suffer an injury than those who tackled multiple activities.
Why that happens? Because doing a workout on repeat stresses your body in the same way, day in and day out, upping your chances of an overuse mishap. Shaking up the type of training you do can help, but why stop doing what you love? A prehab program tailored to you is better. Promise.
(RUNNING, CYCLING, ELLIPTICAL)
Your body works as a unit, also known as a kinetic chain. When one muscle group gets lazy or tense (say, your ankles), another picks up the slack. That can cause painful inflammation issues including IT band syndrome (hip to knee), Achilles tendinitis (calf to heel), and plantar fasciitis (foot), as well as stress fractures, says Malindi Elmore, an Olympic distance runner and coach at runsmartproject.com.
Your Prehab Plan
Take the two-pronged approach of loosening and strengthening. These dynamic stretches and body-weight moves will help ease tightness and improve mobility in your lower body, while activating and solidifying your core and glutes so they’re ready to fire during your sweat session. Add these exercises to your routine two or three times a week, especially before an extra-long session.
ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES: LEG-RAISE COMBO
Lie on your left side with hips stacked, legs extended. Lift your right leg slowly and with control, then lower. Do 10 to 15 reps; repeat on the other side. Then lie facedown and bend your right leg so the sole of your foot faces up. With glutes engaged, lift your right hip 5cm off the floor. Lower slowly. Do 10 to 15 reps; repeat on the other side. Done!
STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE: REVERSE LUNGE WITH TWIST
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Next, step your right foot back and then bend your left knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor; twist your torso to the left. Return to start. Do 10 to 15 reps; repeat on the other side. Nailed it!
LOOSEN YOUR HIPS: FIRE HYDRANT
Start on all fours in tabletop position. Keeping your leg bent and back flat, raise your right knee to the side. Return to start. Do 10 to 15 reps; repeat on the other side.
(HIIT, BOOT CAMP)
Lots of jumps and twists with little rest can torch kilojoules and rev your metabolism but also lead to sloppy form, according to Michael Rosengart, a corrective exercise specialist. Combined with extra pressure on your joints from the explosive moves, this leads to a spike in joint instability, as well as all-caps pain – knee pain (from cartilage damage), torn ligaments, shoulder pain (due to impingement) and chronic lower-back issues. Ouch!
Your Prehab Plan
Offset that impact with this prep sesh from Rosengart before every class. By focusing on the joints that take the most hits, you can bang out more reps with less strain and at a faster pace, he says. Win-win.
WALL FOOT STRETCH
Stand near a wall with the toes of one foot about 7cm up the wall and your heel on the floor. Step towards the wall, keeping your foot flexed, to stretch your ankle and calf. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Ah, sweet relief.
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Push your hips down and back until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, then reverse the movement to return to start. Do 3 to 5 cheeky reps.
Stand with one knee bent and lift your other foot off the floor. With a flat back, hinge at your hips and lower your torso as you lift your raised leg in the air. Reverse to return to start; do 5 reps. Repeat on the other side. Smashed it!
Many popular strength-training moves (think bench press, barbell squat, lat pulldown) sculpt your big muscle groups but neglect the smaller stabilising muscles that help protect your body from imbalances that lead to injury.
Your Prehab Plan
Foam roll. Spending even five minutes on tight muscle groups before a workout can help prevent tweaks and pulls, says Aaron de Jong, founder of the Movr app. Then add in this mix at least twice a week before hitting the rack, to strengthen those smaller muscles from every angle.
Lie facedown on the floor or an incline bench (or stand, holding a light dumbbell in each hand). Raise your arms overhead so your body forms an I, then lower arms gradually so your body forms a Y and then a T, holding for five seconds at each position. Do 10 to 15 reps.
INCHWORM TO DEEP SQUAT
Stand with feet hip-width apart, then bend over and place your hands on the floor in front of you, keeping your legs as straight as possible. Slowly walk your hands forwards until you reach push-up position. Step your feet towards your hands, come to a stand, then push your hips down and back to lower into a deep squat. Do 10 to 15 reps.
Lie faceup with your arms extended, then lift both legs and bend your knees to 90 degrees. Lower your left arm and right leg just above the floor, then return to start and repeat again on the other side, alternating 10 to 15 reps total. Your prehab body, sorted.