Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rehabilitation vs. Athletic Training

Exercise protocols and training methods should be quite different when you are rehabilitating an injury to bring your body up to a functional level of performance vs. when you are striving to improve athletic performance on an already well-trained body. After all, the goals and capabilities are quite different between the two.

Unfortunately, most standard exercise programs do not differentiate between the two goals, and tend to use the same exercise routines for both uses.

The objective of rehabilitative exercises are to help you resolve injuries in specific areas of your body, and to prepare your body for the more difficult performance-based workouts. This is a step-by-step, methodical process, that requires patience and time on your side. Moving too fast, with an unprepared body, into athletic training is a sure recipe for injury and disaster.
Let’s take a few minutes to understand the difference between these two types of programs - Rehabilitative and Athletic Training.

Rehabilitative Exercise Routines
Rehabilitation programs (unlike athletic programs) focus upon returning your body to a state of full function without further injuring yourself in the process. Our primary objective with our rehabilitation programs is resolve your injury, to increase muscular endurance and refine your neurological motor control.

Only after you have completely rehabilitated an injury, and restored good muscle endurance and motor control (neurological control) should you consider applying athletic performance strategies to your training.

Rehabilitation training is not just for resolving existing injuries, it is also a critical preliminary step for preparing your body to accept and benefit from advanced conditioning and performance training. If you have not been physically active for a period of time, it is essential that you start with the “Beginner” sections of this book. As you work your way through the exercise levels, you will be tuning and preparing your body for more advanced performance- based exercises.

Rehabilitation requires patience and time! Remember, your body needs time to heal your injuries. Many people, in their enthusiasm to reach their goal, make their injuries worse by not giving their body sufficient time to heal. So take the time to properly prepare your body for athletic level training.

The following rules are a few fundamental principles that you should keep in mind as you work through all rehabilitative routines:

Principle1: All Pain...No Gain!
Rehabilitation (unlike athletic training) requires that you perform your exercises within a completely pain-free zone, essentially a zone of safety.

Exercising in a manner that causes pain creates abnormal neuromuscular patterns that may lead to further injury. Conventional rehabilitation strategies commonly do not succeed because they do not address the underlying neuromuscular problems. They are often designed to make you work through your pain (as in work- hardening programs). This only causes you to create or reinforce the abnormal motor responses which continue to keep you in pain.

In addition, if you work through pain caused by tissue damage you run the risk of central sensitization. This is a nervous system process which causes you to become more sensitive to pain. The only way to break this pattern is to perform your exercises in a pain-free zone. We commonly have patients come to our clinic who have exercised through their pain for years! They are always amazed at how, by exercising in a pain-free zone, we were able to help them break their pain- cycle in just a few short weeks.

If you truly want to rehabilitate your injuries you must work within a pain-free zone. This is quite different from training to improve your performance training in which you may have to endure some degree of muscle pain (not injury pain) to improve strength and endurance.
Bottom line, never work through injury pain. If you have an injury, and the exercise hurts during certain motions, or if you feel pain when resting, then limit the range-of-motion of the exercise to lie within your pain-free range. In addition, avoid the exercises that cause you pain until your body is ready for them. What works will vary from person to person so listen to your body and adjust the routines accordingly.

Principle 2: Develop your Power
Power (within your body) is about the production and transfer of force through your entire body. Power is also a function of how well you can recruit your nervous system to control muscular action. The more efficient your nervous system, the more power you will have. The more power you have, the easier it is to perform your activities and exercises without injury.
Power is not the same as strength, power is about maximum efficiency without effort. (Strength requires at lot of effort and energy.) The more power you have, the less energy you need to expend to perform a task, which equates to more energy to heal and grow your body.
Power generation is also directly related to the quality of your soft- tissues (muscles, nerves, tendons, etc.). The quality of your soft- tissues determines how well you can store and release energy.

Think of your soft-tissues as being alike to cords of elastic rubber (or perhaps a telephone cord). Just like a rubber cord you can stretch (storing energy) in your tissues and contract (releasing energy). In a healthy state, your muscles contract and release instantaneously, storing and releasing energy with changes in body motion.

So what happens when your rubber cord gets knots tied in it? The cord’s ability to store and release energy is immediately diminished. The same thing happens to your soft-tissues when you build up restrictions and adhesions (from the micro-tears caused by repetitive motion), or scar tissue from injuries. These adhesions and scar tissues are analogous to knots in the cords. Just as the cords ability to store and release energy was diminished by knots, so is our bodies ability to store and release energy diminished by these restrictions. Think of these adhesions restrictions as energy leaks that rob your body of much needed energy for healing.

You will have problems with storing and releasing your own energy if your body is full of tight areas and ropy fibrous restrictions. This is why foam rollers, Massage Therapy, Active Release Techniques, Fascial Manipulation, Graston, and dozens of other soft-tissue techniques are so valuable for helping in your healing process. All these procedures act to improve the quality of your soft-tissue by releasing or removing the soft-tissue restrictions between your tissue layers.

Bottom line, you may need to invest in some soft-tissue care to get rid of these restrictions...they are sapping your energy, causing injuries, and aging you prematurely. Consider getting treatment for these areas, this is an investment that will pay countless positive dividends for the rest of your life.

Principle 3: Build your Aerobic Base

Yes, rehabilitative care does require you to build a good aerobic base. Your cardiovascular system is responsible for transporting oxygen and nutrients to all your cells, and for carrying away toxins and waste products. These are essential processes for any kind of recovery from injuries, and even more essential if you plan to take up athletic endeavors.

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1 comment:

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