Orthopedic problems are a major health issue worldwide. This is a growing problem particularly among baby boomers. Both women and men are both at risk. Job-related conditions like standing all day or performing repetitive motions can lead to overuse injuries. And being out of shape and overweight are leading contributors to orthopedic injuries and chronic orthopedic problems. But active adults are not immune. Pushing too hard when you workout or play sports instead of staying in your comfort zone can do you more harm than good. In fact there are about 28 million reported orthopedic injuries each year in the USA alone. Accidents happen and excellent rehab is available. But a lot of orthopedic problems are preventable.
Muscles and tendons are connected to the brain by a complex system of sensors called proprioceptors, capable of detecting the slightest difference in muscle length, or tension on a tendon. The proprioceptors exist to help your body avoid injury. Those little strains and pains you begin to feel when you push too hard are telling you “Back off” you need more conditioning before you can perform at this level. Pushing through the pain is flirting with serious injury. The proprioceptors also, tell the brain just where a limb is in space at any given time. A well-trained proprioceptive sense helps a tennis player get to a ball and return it without having to think through each step. The body knows the way.
Prehab is one of the best ways to avoid Rehab. Developing your proprioceptive sense- awareness of where your body is in space – is a good start. There are exercise programs that focus on proprioception like my own Moving Free® technique, Tai Chi and certain yoga exercises. It helps you avoid awkward movements that can cause injury and perform daily tasks with ease and grace. And it improves your sense of balance to help prevent falls
Here’s an example
Close your eyes. Hold out your arm in front of you. Your brain knows your arm is in front of you without you having to see it. Keep your eyes closed. Now circle your index finger. Your brain knows where your finger is through the full range of motion without looking. That’s your proprioceptive sense at work.
Strengthening areas at risk for orthopedic injury is another component of Prehab. This kind of Prehab comes in two forms:
- General Prehab for daily living as part of a personal wellness program, looks at the body as a whole, and develops it as a whole to maximize quality of life. This often includes strength training, cardio conditioning and core training, as well as some proprioceptive exercises.
- Activity Specific Prehab designed to get you ready for the rigors of a particular sport or physical endeavor. Good Activity Specific exercises pay special attention to the body parts most involved in that activity without ignoring the concept of training the body as a whole.
About the Author:
Mirabai Holland M.F.A. is one of the leading authorities in the Health & Fitness industry, and public health activist who specializing in preventive and rehabilitative exercise for people. Her Moving Free® approach to exercise is designed to provide a movement experience so pleasant it doesn’t feel like work. www.movingfree.com.