Can prehabilitation save you from needing rehabilitation?


What is Prehabilitation or Prehab?

Prehabilitation is typically used for two reasons:

  1. Improving an individual’s functional capacity through increased physical activity  before an anticipated procedure or surgery,  in order to improve the outcome
  2. A personalized, periodized and integrated exercise program that provides specific exercises and activities based on the needs of the individual, in order to prevent injuries.


Prehab is appropriate for all populations (e.g. athletes, youth, elderly, and those with chronic illnesses).

Customized prehabilitation programs focus on preparing the body for the demands of training and thus helps to prevent injuries.

A sound and personalized prehabilitation exercise program should be integrated and include:

  • Core
  • Balance
  • Reactive (plyometric)
  • Cardiorespiratory
  • Resistance
  • Speed, agility and quickness (athletes)


A NEED’’S analysis,  PARQ (Physical Fitness Activity Readiness Questionnaire), and assessment should be used to determine the appropriate prehab program design.

Exercises and specific drills can then be used to focus on the individuals weaknesses as well as on movements  that are required  to complete  specific tasks or goals.


Why is prehab so important?

Take a look at some statistics:

Foot/Ankle Injuries:

  • There are more than 1 million doctor visits per year for Plantar Fasciitis.
  • Ankle Sprains are the most common sports related injury, with lateral sprains creating a high risk for developing chronic ankle instability.

Shoulder Injuries:

  • 21% of general population report shoulder injuries, with 40% lasting at least 1 year, and with shoulder impingement being the most common.
  • This can increase the risk for osteoarthritis over time.

Low Back Pain:

  • Affects nearly 80% of adults
  • 1/3 of all work injuries involve trunk and 60% involve the lower back.
  • The average injury cost approximately 9 days per episode and annual costs associated with low back pain is greater than $26 billion.

Knee Injuries:

  • 80-100,000 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur annually in general population, with 70-75% being non-contact injuries.
  • Osteoarthritis occurs at 10x greater rate with ACL injury.


Surgical Outcome with Prehab

Through the use of prehab techniques before surgery, patients are positioned for faster recoveries following their procedures.

In addition,  Prehab can improve strength, flexibility and mobility. In some cases, it can improve conditions enough to reduce the complexity of the required surgery. Even when it can’t, however, it can leave patients better prepared to endure the impact surgery can have on their body and can leave them well-prepared to quickly get back on the road to recovery.


Injury Prevention with Prehab

A simple movement screen can uncover muscle and joint imbalances along with faulty movement patterns.

Since these imbalances and compensations are known to increase one’s risk for injury, they can serve as a guide for specific program design tailored to an individuals deficiencies, which can then help reduce  the risk of injuries.


Bottom line- If you don’t prehab, chances are you’ll be needing more rehab

About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin