Post Rehabilitation and Exercise
Anyone who has suffered an injury can attest to the feelings of weakness, low motivation, and pain. Many still believe to rest and not move is to heal and by doing any exercise they will re-injure or cause worse damage but that could not be further from the truth. This article should put any fables to rest when it comes to post rehabilitation and exercise.
Some of the most common injuries that occur to day are knee, ankle, shoulder, back and neck. Many are attributed to the higher active lifestyle that is now a reality such as extreme sports and an overall rise in popularity for exercise in general. Some of these sports include mountain biking, snowboarding, tennis, martial arts, mountain climbing and inline skating. Of course there are still car accidents as a forerunner in causing back and neck injury but the solution remains the same. Next up is stroke, heart condition, diabetes and other special populations, all candidates for post rehab fitness.
Immediately upon injury one should always see your doctor and start rehabilitation or physiotherapy as soon as is clear to do so. This is one of the most crucial times in the injury even if surgery will be needed because the repairs can start with training. Pre-Operative rehab is one way to guarantee success in surgery and in coming back from the injury but unfortunately most don’t bother with it, thinking it is a waste of time. Post operative rehab is basic. Simple exercises are given to begin rebuilding the cartilage in the joint affected. Most of the time clients in rehabilitation training will use stability balls, balance boards, lateral slides, and rubber tubing for resistance.
The weight at this point is not as much a factor as is the balance, coordination and controlled technique which directly involve stabilization muscles and joints. It is just like walking again for the first time, stepping back and starting from square one. Teaching the affected area how to support itself again and do the work without straining all of the surrounding muscles. These muscles become major helpers once the injury occurs compensating for the lack of strength left from the damage.
Post rehabilitation is when the client can finally introduce some weight training again after the injury is dealt with. Flexibility is the main concern after an injury because all the surrounding muscles tend to tighten up from compensation. Common stretching for the legs, back, neck and shoulders are stressed for the first while. Stretching is a necessity regardless of your condition and should always be a part of your exercise program but at a post rehab level a person needs to take extra time to stretch.
A useful suggestion is to keep a 10 to 15 minute warm up and cool down on the treadmill or stair master in order to get the blood flowing and heart pumping which prepares the body for your next step, as well as making each of muscles easier to stretch. In the case of post rehab I always suggest stretching before, during and after training, but only passive stretching and nothing aggressive. NEVER BOUNCE!
When you stretch in between and after your training it helps with recovery, doing it before will help with preparing the muscle for the training. Use lighter weight and higher reps for enhancing endurance and to strengthen the connective tissue once weights are incorporated. Slow and controlled movements are so important so that there is no re-injury. This type of training can be done at home if the equipment is available.
Most commonly this equipment consists of rubber tubing type resistance, light dumbbells (water bottles filled to your requirement will also work), ankle/wrist type weights and a good mat. For stretching at home you can also use a towel for assistance in the stretch when you can’t reach with your hands and if you don’t have a partner to help. If you have wrist injury or suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, then do wear a carpal tunnel wrist brace.
The whole idea with post rehab is to introduce the body and injured area to work again but passively. The process of training causes natural lubrication of the joints, circulation for improved healing, removal of cellular waste build up and strengthening of the area in general. For those who were already active prior to the injury, this is the steppingstone toward regular training and sport. Here are some common exercises that can help for post rehab, considering there has been a doctor has release to begin training again.
Lunges – back, knees, ankles
Calve Raises – knees, ankles
Superman – back, mostly lower – prone alternating leg and arm raises also called Superman done nose down (Important to keep cervical spine straight) on a mat lifting a leg and opposite arm, then the next sides)
Pelvic tilt – low back, abdominals Single Leg 3/4 Squat – knees, ankles
Shrugs – neck, shoulders
Forehead Press – neck done with manual resistance such as your hand on your forehead than push forward with the head