Pre-hab: What It Is and Why You Should Do It

December 24th, 2019

Are you in need of surgery in the near future? Do you have a physically demanding job or sport that puts you at risk of injury? Are your muscles and joints simply not what they used to be, becoming frail and weak? If you identify with any of these scenarios, you should consider preventative rehabilitation, or “pre-hab.”

Pre-hab is a form of physiotherapy that conditions the body to help it heal quicker after surgery, speed up recovery processes, and prevent injuries from occurring. Pre-hab can be split into two different categories: pre-hab for injury prevention and pre-hab for surgical recovery. For injury prevention, pre-hab focuses on the patient’s problem areas and works to strengthen them in order to protect against physical damage.  For surgical recovery, pre-hab is done before the patient even goes under the knife – making the surgery itself much easier, along with the recovery. If you believe this treatment could benefit you, contact Ottawa Health Group today to schedule a consultation with one of our physiotherapists!

How does pre-hab prevent injuries?

Pre-hab is a great resource for those prone to injuries, or for those at risk of developing injuries. To figure out where your problem areas are, you will complete a thorough evaluation with your physiotherapist to determine what your treatment plan will consist of. These typically include a combination of exercises, stretches, and pain-relieving techniques that target areas where injuries are likely to occur. For example, those in the military are more prone to develop foot, knee, hip, and back problems due to the rigors of training and combat. Pre-hab can mitigate many of these injuries by teaching proper posture, effective core strengthening exercises, and correct lifting techniques that keep service members strong and healthy. The same can be said for firefighters, factory workers, and other employees in highly physical occupations.

Both pro and amateur athletes can also benefit from pre-hab treatments. Their treatment will focus on targeting poor technique and doing conditioning exercises to correct it. Their physiotherapists will also focus more on the areas of their bodies that are repeatedly stressed and overused by their sport, determining their likelihood of injury and creating a plan to reverse that likelihood. Physiotherapy treatments typically aim at mobility improvement and pain relief through strength and balance training. Pre-hab can help you improve your physical abilities in your sport or occupation, while simultaneously reducing your risk of injury.

How does pre-hab improve surgical recovery?

Many people fear the harsh recoveries that follow surgical procedures. This is especially true for anyone who has had a total joint replacement. Faced with the knowledge of time spent in a rehabilitation hospital, many people delay joint replacement surgery out of fear for the long, difficult recovery ahead. Fortunately, pre-hab can help significantly reduce recovery time. Did you know that by partaking in preventative rehabilitation, you can reduce your odds of needing inpatient rehabilitation by 73 percent? If you are stronger before surgery, you will meet your physical milestones much quicker after surgery, decreasing your recovery time by days or even weeks.

For example, patients who undergo total knee replacement surgery are typically expected to walk 500-1,000 feet 24 hours after their procedure. This may sound like a difficult task; however, those who participate in pre-hab before their surgery are much more likely to meet this demand than those who do not. Pre-hab provides patients with the stretches, strengthening exercises, and pain-relieving techniques they need for a smooth and speedy recovery.

If you are interested in our preventative rehabilitation services, give our office a call today! We would be happy to discuss how physiotherapy could enhance your physical function and reduce your risk of injury. Schedule a consultation today to get started on the first steps of your treatment plan!

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