Have you got an upcoming surgery or recent change in health that will require intensive treatment? Maybe you should strongly consider the concept of Prehab and how it could benefit your recovery.
What is prehab?
Prehab is rehabilitation performed before your surgery or to prevent injuries in high-risk activities. A regime of planned exercise ideally 6 weeks before the event has been academically proven to improve post-operative function, minimise time to return to normal activities and improve the recovery process. Your prehab professional can assess how much help you need currently and after surgery, set a plan for hospital discharge (a great way to manage any pre-op anxieties), improve strength and conditioning and help practise with any walking aids or movement restrictions. Conditions that benefit from prehab and following rehabilitation include joint replacements especially in the elderly, cardiac conditions, general surgical, cancer diagnosis and athletes or high level sports that carry a known risk of injuries during a game/ season.
My Mum’s knee prehab
After ongoing complaining about knee pain (and lack of family sympathy) I finally conceded that Mum should go for an MRI. As it turns out, she wasn’t making it up! Imaging revealed a meniscus tear with a cyst (associated with larger tears) but otherwise very healthy cartilage and ligaments (not bad for a sixty year old knee!). Small meniscus tears on the outer edges sometimes heal, but as they get larger and towards the centre the likelihood of this decreases due to poor blood supply. The next step is a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon, but first, let the prehab begin!
The main aim is to build quadriceps, hamstrings and glute strength, bulk and awareness. After surgery, pain and inflammation decreases your ability to contract surrounding muscles and leads to wasting and compromised control. In mum’s program we try and combine a mix of exercises that produce co-contraction or emphasise the three types of muscle contractions (isometric, eccentric and concentric). We have maintained overall strength and fitness with boxing and short runs on a straight track against a thick resistance band. Avoiding pivoting at the knee, bending the knee past 90 degrees especially with weights is essential to avoid aggravating the current injury. A tear with a cyst can compromise the cartilage of the knee joint with repetitive irritation so a professionally planned program is essential for prehab programs.
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