Posted in Blog.
PREHAB | Removing Barriers to Performance
Often times in the fitness/medical/nutrition world, there can be a lot of uncertainty. Results of a “landmark” study can have you believing something is healthy one year, and likely to kill you the next. The problem is that the human body is incredibly complex, and performing research in itself often presents a lot of difficulties. Interestingly, when scouring academic databases, it is very rare to find a preventative routine actually be successful in reducing running injuries. “Stretching” has been tested multiple times and never been found to reduce injuries. “Strength training” has proven ineffective. “Arch support” hasn’t made a difference. So the question is, is there anything I can do to reduce my injury risk and improve performance as a recreational runner? The answer is yes…but it’s more complicated than simply stretching your hamstrings for 30 seconds before you run.
The problem with performing randomized-controlled studies is that the intervention HAS to be the same for all participants (everyone stretches their hamstrings/ does leg presses etc vs doing nothing at all) otherwise how would we know what worked and what didn’t? Unfortunately, this approach can completely miss the boat for human function. If there’s one thing we know about the human body, it’s that it varies incredibly between individuals. A one-sized fit all approach to injury prevention and performance enhancement simply will not work, especially when the intervention is simply general stretching or strengthening.
Instead, it’s important to identify any body segments lacking mobility, strength, or flexibility, unique to the individual, that may be causing compensation or adding unnecessary movement to your running gait (or whatever other activities you perform). These limitations could be coming from anywhere in your body from your nose to your toes, and can lead to symptoms at a completely different part of the body. In most people, these areas of dysfunction can be identified fairly quickly with an assessment from a Physical Therapist. This knowledge then allows your PT to develop a targeted program to directly address the issues or limitations that are most likely to lead to a potential injury down the road.
Once identified, it’s also important to understand just how the muscle or joint functions during running, and develop a prehab program that trains the movements required. It may be that the muscle needs to be stronger while it is lengthening, or shortening. Or that a joint needs to improve its ability to rotate left or right. Knowing this allows the development of a routine that improves function exactly how it is needed. As an added bonus, odds are these areas of weakness or dysfunction are also what is limiting you from improving your performance significantly.
Developing a true, effective prehab routine can be done with the help of a coach or physical therapist who specializes in running, and will have huge pay outs down the road when you are able to stay healthy and consistently build upon your performance! Finish Line Physical Therapy has been developing both rehab and prehab programs for athletes for over…..years, and exists to empower athletes to get and remain healthy through even the toughest training cycles.