The Dos and Don’ts of Prehab

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The Dos and Don’ts of Prehab

Prehab. A word that has gained popularity both within sport and within healthcare. Prehab, short for prehabilitation, is the proactive approach to reducing the chance of injury. Think of this like traditional physical therapy, or rehab, but done before the injury occurs. So instead of being reactive (rehab), we are being proactive (prehab). While we can’t prevent 100% of all injuries in sport and in life, we can certainly take measures to reduce the number or significance of them. Allowing us to continue our fitness journey of living longer, healthier lives with less interruptions.


In this blog, I’m going to talk about 3 dos and don’ts of prehabilitation, and why it’s important to make sure you add it into your regular fitness routine!




Be Intentional.

When it comes to your prehab, it’s important to be intentional with your exercises. And by intentional, I’m speaking to the area of the body you’re focusing the exercises on related to what the demand of your sport or your workout is requiring. If you have a workout focused heavily on the upper body, you should pick prehab exercises that target the area taking most of the stress, or where most of the movement is happening – which is likely your shoulders. You should be really specific in targeting that body region to make sure it’s prepared for the repetitive stress you’re going to be placing it under. The more intentional you are about honing in on this area, the greater chance of avoiding injuries there.


Focus on the supporting cast.

When performing prehab exercises, similar to rehab exercises, it’s not always going to look like the fun, sexy, traditional exercises you’re used to. You want to target the entire cast of muscles involved, which means you’ll be doing different, and often “simpler” exercises. This means slowing down, using minimal to no additional weight, and putting the joints through full range of motion. Areas such as the rotator cuff, the lower traps, glute medius, and hip adductors are key areas to target to help avoid those unknowing injuries. And to target them, you must slow down and often go through simple, less traditional exercises to target them.


Use lower weight, at higher reps.

This certainly isn’t a one size fits all answer, but for most of us, lower weight and higher reps will do wonders. First, a lot of the exercises will be new and your body needs to adapt to the new movement pattern. The muscles need to learn how to contract in that direction, under minimal to no load, to begin adaptation. Secondly, you also reduce the chance of poor form and the larger, more commonly used muscles from dominating the movement. Thirdly, more reps at lower weight helps ensure muscle fatigue which in turn allows our muscles to be repaired stronger and better than before.




Rush through it.

Remember, you want to be intentional with these movements. You need to slow down, take your time, and pay attention. The slower you go, the more time under tension you have, and the more demand it is out of the muscles. If you rush through, there’s a good chance you won’t reap the full reward from the exercise. Be mindful of what’s happening when you’re performing these and pay attention to the fatigue you’re building up.


Let your ego take over.

Some of the exercises may seem “too easy” or “too light” and like you should totally add more weight. Remember, the point of prehab is to be proactive and to target the entire joint. You’re not trying to hit PRs with prehab exercises, but rather intentionally strengthen and develop the musculature around the area that allows you to hit new PRs in a separate setting – later. Trust the process, understand that ALL movement requires muscular contraction, and be patient.


Ignore it!

It’s often said that youth is wasted on the young, and we don’t know what we have until it’s gone. It’s also said that “it doesn’t hurt until it hurts.” And what I mean by all this is: we’re not all spring chickens anymore, and we can’t just jump right into a WOD fresh off the street. Every year we get a little older, and a little more injury prone; we have more wear and tear on our bodies and the little deficiencies over the years have started to add up. We usually don’t even know we have imbalances or deficiencies until we start to experience the pain.


By taking the proactive approach and getting ahead of pain before it creeps in, we can save ourselves a lot of time, money, and frustration in the future. So, give yourself that 5-10 minutes per day to allow for prehab exercises. The sooner you start, the better your odds of reducing injuries and living your healthiest lifestyle.

Who wrote this post...

Dylan Marsh

Dylan Marsh

Dylan began his journey in 2013 when he was introduced to CrossFit by a friend. Through a college internship and incredible mentorship, Dylan fell in love with the sport, being drawn into the philosophy and lifestyle CrossFit has to offer. His desire for learning and understanding movement, along with his keen eye for the small details has developed a true passion for teaching others how to move better and improve their overall health. When he’s not in the gym he enjoys exploring the city, having authentic conversations, and volunteering at his church. In his former life, Dylan served 7 years in the Army. He loves adding to his tattoo collection, and his favorite benchmark workout is Helen.

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