Rehabilitation Before Surgery
Prehab is a stint of therapeutic exercises prior to undergoing a surgical procedure. Prehab is typically shorter than a course of rehabilitation and the goals differ. In rehabilitation, you are focused on returning to your pre-injury level, and perhaps being even stronger as you address underlying concerns that caused the initial pain, dysfunction, or both. With prehab, the goal is to improve your strength and endurance to the greatest degree possible prior to surgery to minimize the negative effects of the procedure.
For many surgeries, there are unavoidable musculoskeletal side effects. The primary negative outcome following surgery is muscular atrophy or muscle loss. If a body part is immobilized and restricted of movement, a muscle is cut, or a muscle’s nerve or blood supply is interfered with, muscle size could decrease rapidly. This reduction in muscle size impairs a person’s strength, endurance, power, and balance.
If you have not experienced this personally, it is likely you have seen someone’s arm after if was removed from a cast, or a leg after a prolonged period in a walking boot, or a thigh after an ACL surgery. In all three cases, the muscle size decreases significantly.
While prehab will not prevent this atrophy from occurring, it will limit the severity. Prehab can lessen the decrease in muscle size, the loss in strength and power, and mobility. Furthermore, by training specific movement patterns, you can improve your skill development which will suffer little, if any, reduction following a short layoff. Even strength and power will return more rapidly in someone with more recent training. The ability to quickly regain any lost skill, strength, or power is known as the reversibility principle and it can rapidly expedite your subsequent rehabilitation.