Prehab- Prevent Injuries with Targeted Training

Prehabilitation (prehab) is a term that is unfamiliar to most, including many in the medical field.  It is a relatively new concept of performing strength and conditioning exercises prior to an expected surgery.  Multiple studies have proven benefit with exercise prior to surgery.  By improving cardiopulmonary function the risk of general anesthesia is reduced.  By improving muscle strength prior to a joint replacement, recovery time in rehab can be reduced by almost half.  And by improving overall health and fitness, cancer patients note fewer side effects and quicker recovery from chemotherapy.


Prehab has since adapted to include injury prevention, particularly in the context of sports.  It is a proactive approach to avoiding pain and injury with the goal to build strength, and improve balance and flexibility.  All sports place individuals at risk of injury, but the likelihood of injury and of what anatomical structure is dependent upon both the sport and the biomechanics of the athlete.

A common example is the young female athlete in a sport such as volleyball or basketball.  Due to a wider pelvis, women naturally have a larger Q angle (the angle on which the femur rests on the tibia).


This greater angle means that women naturally have a more “knock-kneed” position.  Female athletes also have a tendency to land in a more upright position after jumping.  For these reasons, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears are much more common in females, particularly in sports that have a lot of jumping (volleyball, basketball) and lateral movements (soccer, tennis).  By training proper jumping and landing mechanics, in addition to  strengthening the vastus medialis oblique muscle with appropriate exercises, additional anteromedial joint stability can be provided, preventing the valgus force which causes season (and sometimes career) ending knee injuries. 


Prehab for sports injury prevention is not just limited to knee training.  Other common injuries include:

  • Baseball:  Ulnar collateral ligament strain; rotator cuff tear; hamstring strain
  • Basketball: Tibiofibular ligament (high ankle) sprain; quadriceps tear; patellar tendonitis
  • Rowing: Biceps tendonitis; lumbar spondylolisthesis; scapulothoracic bursitis
  • Running: Plantar fasciitis; medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints); trochanteric bursitis
  • Swimming: Subacromial bursitis; shoulder impingement syndrome; neck strain

By adequately preparing with prehab, athletes can prevent these and other common injuries, allowing them to continue playing the sports they love.  Or if you are anticipating an upcoming surgery, prehabilitation will reduce your recovery time by nearly half.



Ries E, (Feb 2016).  Better Sonner and Later: Prehabilitation. American Physical Therapy Association – PT in Motion. Retrieved 08/22/2018 from




Prehabilitation or “Prehab” as it has been coined by the physical therapy industry is the practice of performing specific exercises to strengthen muscles that may be weak or create a susceptibility to injury for the athlete. The above picture depicts the difference in proper vs. poor landing form and the some of the biomechanical reasons why the form is poor. Here at RMHW we incorporate prehab into our classes and personal training to make sure our clients can be the most functional version of themselves.

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