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by Jason Lakritz, PT, DPT, FAFS

Posted in Blog.

July 16th, 2020

How Do You Approach Injury Rehab and Prevention?

This is a follow-up post to Finish Line DPT Jason Lakrtitz’ What Is An Injury (click here to read)


How should you think about rehabbing and injury and injury prevention? 


I will use an example of an injury to help demonstrate 2 different approaches to injury rehab and prevention.


You have pain on the bottom of your foot in your heel. It is diagnosed as plantar fasciitis. 


  • Approach 1- use a protocol of exercises that is the same for every person with plantar fasciitis.  
  • Approach 2- look for the reason why your plantar fascia is being overloaded and work on exercises to improve that


Most people would say of course I want to use approach number 2. However, the number one thing I am asked at any injury talk that I give is what exercises would you recommend for X injury. My response is always the same, “it depends”. A better question to ask would be, what is my body doing (or not doing) that is causing my foot to hurt? The rehab or injury prevention program would be a series of manual treatments and exercises aimed at directly improving your individual limitations (ie mobility, stability, strength) and incorporating that back into the movement pattern of the task. 


  Let’s use plantar fasciitis as an example. 


For example, person A with plantar fasciitis has limited ankle flexion and limited strength in the calf muscle, but has good movement in the arch of his foot. That person would get exercises to improve ankle dorsiflexion (the action of raising the foot up towards the shin) and calf strengthening exercises and then be asked to use the new movement and strength in the task that they want to do.


As another example, let’s say person Z had good ankle dorsiflexion and strong calf muscles but had a very stiff arch and weak ankle muscles they would get exercises focused on improving arch mobility and ankle strength. We would then focus on relearning how to incorporate this increased range of motion (ROM) into the tasks that they wanted to complete (ie running). So the answer to the question about how do I rehab X injury would be, everyone is an individual so the reason why one person has an injury may be a completely different reason as to why another person has it as it depends on why your body is overloading the tissue that’s causing you to have pain.   


Here are a few quick points to remember. 

  • Injuries occur because too much force in placed on a structure then it can handle and it fails
  • The body’s response to the injury is pain. Pain is good, it lets you know something is wrong. Don’t ignore it. Change it!
  • When thinking about rehabbing and injury or injury prevention focus on the strength and mobility deficits your body has and not on a protocol of exercises for a specific injury. 
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