Did you know that doctors suggest exercise programs to help patients treat heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, postoperative rehabilitation, etc? Of course you did (yawn). But what if we didn’t sit around waiting for physical decline to take hold? What if we did something about it before it happened? What a great idea! After all, I don’t really have a “hit back” kind of personality. Hit first, that’s my motto.
Corrective is great, but preventive is even better.
“Prehabilitation” refers to performing exercises with the intention of building strength, stability, balance, flexibility and mobility around the areas of the body that are vulnerable to injury. Taking steps to slow the course of potential problems can not only help put the brakes on the process of physical decline, but it can also make your body more resistant to injury. To condense the concept into those catchy, corporate-America-style talking points that everybody loves, exercise:
Decreases the potential for injuries
Decelerates age–related deterioration
See what I did there? Two D’s. Just like the two D’s in DD Workouts. Adorable, eh? In fact, it’s so great, I’m going to post the same thing again in larger lettering, just in case you weren’t paying attention the first time.
A properly designed exercise program can…
Decrease the potential for injuries
Decelerate age–related deterioration
There. I hope everybody gets my point by now, because it’s important to realize that there’s actually something that can be done about aches, pains, spinal health, joint problems, physical aging, certain diseases, and injuries besides loudly complaining to anyone willing to listen.
More good news: Not only can exercise be used as a preventive tactic, but it can be used as a therapeutic modality to halt or reverse the course of existing physical problems.
I’m usually not much of a carnival barker, but… You heard right folks, step right up and sample a scientific miracle… exercise! Seriously though. If you suffer from high blood pressure, low blood pressure, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, diabetes, obesity, cerebral vascular accident, peripheral vascular disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, osteopenia, neck problems, shoulder problems, knee problems, hip problems, low back problems, ankle problems, or just want to make activities of daily living easier, ask your physician if an intelligent physical fitness program would be a worthwhile pursuit. That’s right, don’t take my word for it. Ask a physician. You can ask ten physicians, but they’re all going to tell you the same thing.
Coincidentally (not really), this blog article is scheduled to post the a few days before I conduct a workshop in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I’ll spare you blog-readers the written transcript of 90 minutes of me talking, but if you’re interested in further knowledge, here are links to a few of the scientific studies that I’ll be summarizing to support the efficacy of prehab and exercise therapy:
- A meta-analysis of the effect of neuromuscular training on the prevention of the anterior cruciate ligament injury in female athletes
- Resistance training is accompanied by increases in hip strength and changes in lower extremity biomechanics during running
- The effect of physical exercise on bone density in middle-aged and older men
- Long-term outcomes of exercise: follow-up of a randomized trial in older women with osteopenia
- Strength training preserves the bone mineral density of postmenopausal women without hormone replacement therapy
- The effect of prehabilitation exercise on strength and functioning after total knee arthroplasty
- The benefits of strength training for older adults
- Heavy-load eccentric calf muscle training for the treatment of chronic Achilles tendinosis
- Perioperative exercise training in elderly subjects
- Cervical resistance training: effects on isometric and dynamic strength
- Implementation of the FIFA 11+ football warm up program: How to approach and convince the Football associations to invest in prevention
Why yes, dear reader, I do enjoy reading university studies. Thank you for asking.
Although it’s best to design a program around your specific needs, here’s a novice-level quickie you can do to build strength, balance, and stability in the core — building your core will help to protect your spine, improve musculoskeletal health, make you more athletic, and generally make your life easier. Oh, and this only takes three minutes, so please save your excuses about how you don’t have time, or you’re tired after sitting in a cushioned chair in an air conditioned office all day, or you’re going to miss that tv show where you can watch Kayne West’s wife go shopping. Just do the three minutes. Okay? Okay.
Hold each for the prescribed time period. If you can’t make the full time, come down and rest until it’s time to begin the next exercise:
- Front Plank — 60 seconds
- Hip Bridge — 60 seconds
- Left Side Plank — 30 seconds
- Right Side Plank — 30 seconds
Repeat 3-5 times per week. If you successfully complete the entire time period for an exercise, then for the next workout increase the time for that exercise by 10 seconds. When you can hold each for 90 seconds, move on to more challenging variations.
Goljan, Edward. “Pathology.” Harcourt Brace. 1998.
Hatfield, Frederick. “Fitness: The Complete Guide, Edition 8.6.6.” Carpinteria, CA. International Sports Sciences Association. 2011
Knopf, Karl. “Exercise Therapy, Third Edition.” Carpinteria, CA. International Sports Sciences Association. 2013