"We’ve all been in the position where we’ve either had an injury or wanting to improve on performing a task that warrants better biomechanics.
You seek help from your trusted Sports Physio or Podiatrist (such as the cool crew at Evolutio in Melbourne!) who, after a careful, thorough assessment and some magic hands-on work come up with a REHAB plan for you to go away with and do diligently.
The truth is, rehab is more than just “strengthening the part that is weak” …
Here are the untold reasons behind why you are given rehab exercises, and why you should do them!
Mechanotranduction describes the process in which your cells convert mechanical loading into cell responses. The cellular responses then promote structural change - thus when load is used therapeutically, it can help with repair and remodelling of your tendons, muscles, cartilage and bone (Khan & Scott, 2009)
A good example of mechanotransduction would be the approach we take with Tendon Rehab- The logical thing to do would be to rest something that is “overloaded” right? WRONG! Resting only reduces the tendon capacity further and while the pain goes away, the tendon is actually weaker than when you started….so the chances are, you’re setting yourself up for a chronic recurring injury. Having the right type of load and understanding when to load is where a physio or podiatrist can really tailor a program to meet your individual needs according to where you are in the healing process.
Do not trust a generic internet program as there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to injury management.
2) The Brain
We know this phrase well … “Practice makes Perfect”.
The very definition of the word Practice suggests that it is something we do repeatedly…
Practice [prak-tis] verb: “to perform or do repeatedly in order to acquire skill or proficiency”
Take driving for example- when we first got our L’s and mum and dad entrusted us with their car keys to take the family wagon for a spin…we were keen and eager to jump in as much as we could to practice our newly found skills.
Over a 6 week period if we had access to the car everyday as opposed to little Johnny next door who was only allowed to use his parents’ car on weekends, its obvious who would more likely end up the better driver or at least more familiar with using a car!
Rehab isn’t too dissimilar. If movement within the kinetic chain is faulty, weak or unfamiliar, we break it down and practice it correctly, with precision and consistently.
On the flip side of that, doing nothing to address a faulty movement pattern can also mean you reinforce a way of moving that hinders your progress or worse still, cause injury.
Practicing a movement pattern repeatedly enhances motor neuron excitability, which helps to increase communication between the nervous system and the muscles themselves(Adkins, Boychuk, Remple, & Kleim, 2006; Karni et al., 1998)… This is why research has shown improvements in strength occur long before muscles actually change in size!
Those boring little exercises that seemingly don’t feel like you’re doing much are actually paving the road for the messages to get from your brain to your muscle more efficiently.
If you load up inappropriately or too soon without this little step in the process, your body will only do what it knows best which is to use its “default” (faulty or inefficient) pattern of moving and thus put you at risk of re-injury or prolong the process of recovering from an injury.
Remember this… Poor movement patterns only exist in your brain!
3) Ownership and Goal Setting
Owning your injury and being involved in the process of getting it right ensures you keep the end game in sight.
When you’re given a rehab plan, it involves specific goals and timeframes. You’re in control!
One study showed that those who have daily goals as well as involvement and perceived control over their rehab vs just believing that “recovery was just something that happened to them” had faster healing times from a sports injury (Ievleva & Orlick, 1991)
Other benefits of a goal focussed rehab plan include positive effects on stress, attitude and improved confidence on return to training or sport.
Don’t look at your rehab program like it’s a separate bit of ‘homework’ that takes you away from what you would really rather be doing. Find ways to integrate it into your training session.
If part of your rehab plan is to address some mobility issues, use these exercises as your warm up and prep before you start a workout.
If your rehab includes accessory muscle work or activation of smaller stability muscles, how bout you do them in between your strength sets?
After all, utilising these better movement patterns in the context of when you need them will not only allow you to strengthen the correct muscles, it will train your brain to activate the correct muscles at the correct time and ultimately improve performance.
5) We WANT to get you back to training!
Trust us when we say that our goals are the same as yours. We understand the frustrations of being halted during training because of injury but also recognise the demand of getting your body back to the level you want to either train or compete at.
We believe that “injury is opportunity” and that there is so much more to rehab than just “strengthening the part that is weak.
So if you need a great practitioner, not just a good one. Come and see an Evolutio Physio or Podiatrist based out of South Yarra and Kew in Melbourne.
Jac comes from an experienced background in Sports Physiotherapy through many years working in London and Melbourne.
She has a wicked eye for Analyzing Movement and Biomechanics. Jac is also a coach at CrossFit U in West Melbourne and works out of our South Yarra clinic at GW Performance on Mondays and Thursdays, Kew and Tuesdays. Bookings with Jac can be made here
Adkins, D. L., Boychuk, J., Remple, M. S., & Kleim, J. A. (2006). Motor training induces experience-specific patterns of plasticity across motor cortex and spinal cord. J Appl Physiol (1985), 101(6), 1776-1782. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00515.2006
Ievleva, L., & Orlick, T. (1991). Mental Links to Enahnced Healing: An Exploration Study. Sport Psychologist, Vol. 5( Issue 1).
Karni, A., Meyer, G., Rey-Hipolito, C., Jezzard, P., Adams, M. M., Turner, R., & Ungerleider, L. G. (1998). The acquisition of skilled motor performance: Fast and slow experience-driven changes in primary motor cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 95(3), 861-868. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/95/3/861.abstract
Khan, K. M., & Scott, A. (2009). Mechanotherapy: how physical therapists’ prescription of exercise promotes tissue repair. Br J Sports Med, 43(4), 247-252. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.054239