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Having surgery? Prehabilitation is the way to go

Training isn’t always easy to keep up with regularly. Whether you’re working towards a weight loss goal, practicing for a race or just trying to generally improve your overall health, the body tends to wear down after time, and training becomes more and more difficult to do without injury. Often times, men who do train regularly (athletes and everyday guys alike) may come across an injury that requires orthopaedic surgery. For anyone who has had an orthopaedic procedure done, there is inevitably rehabilitation that follows. These varying forms of exercises and stretches are what allow the muscles and fibers in and around the site of the procedure to become fully strengthened again.

Rehabilitation is always done post-op and—depending on the procedure that one receives—could be a fairly long process. This does not always need to be the case, however. By implementing a well-rounded and comprehensive exercise plan to begin strengthening an injury prior to a procedure you can shorten the process. This process is known as prehabilitation.

What Is Prehabilitation?

Just as rehab is done after a procedure to enhance range of motion, strength and healing, prehabilitation is done before the procedure to achieve exactly the same goals and to lessen the amount of time that post-op rehab could potentially take. In order to ensure the best possible outcome for a procedure, prehabilitation involves both physical and lifestyle preparations to promote a faster recovery and a better end result.

The goal is to ultimately increase functional capacity by ramping up physical activity prior to a procedure. By doing this, the body becomes pre-conditioned to be able to endure the stress of inactivity during the initial recovery process. It’s easiest to think of it almost as a jumpstart for the post-procedure healing process.

In a study of 60 patients who would be undergoing spinal surgery, the group given an integrated prehabilitation program prior to their procedures had a much shorter hospital stay and no additional complications, pain or dissatisfaction.

What Does Prehabilitation Involve?

Prehabilitation is approached with a varying array of different methods of physical training. These include:

  • Cardiovascular (e.g., running, sprinting, endurance training, interval training)
  • Components of warm-ups (e.g., stretching, light jogging, stationary biking)
  • Emotional/ stress management
  • Flexibility training (e.g., stretching and/or yoga)
  • Functional tasks (e.g., ascending/descending stairs, sitting to standing)
  • Nutrition plan (e.g., improving diet to optimize nutrient intake)
  • Resistance training (e.g., weight lifting, calisthenics, using resistance bands)

According to Arthritis Today, “Doing pre-surgery exercises for a knee procedure can reduce a patient’s need for rehabilitation by up to 73 percent.”

With those kinds of results, it’s difficult to deny prehabilitation’s resounding successes. It is both a method of preparation for mind and body prior to an orthopaedic procedure, as well as a way of preventing lengthy recovery periods and complications. Prehabilitation is most certainly a key component to having a successful come back from any orthopaedic injury.

If you are scheduling an orthopaedic procedure, and would like to pursue prehabilitation, be sure to let your physician know in order to implement a comprehensive program that will cater to strengthening the area that needs to be focused on.

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