If you’ve been injured, undergone surgery, or are struggling with a chronic disease such as diabetes, you may have been recommended some rehabilitation to help you recover. This is all very well but what is rehabilitation? What is the point? These are the type of questions that are often left unanswered and leave people feeling uncertain about entering a rehabilitation facility.
Rehabilitation therapy offers a controlled medical environment to help your body heal, regain strength, and relearn skills you may have lost due to an incident. Rehabilitation is not a one-size-fits-all approach and is often made more difficult by a poor understanding of the body as well as the rehabilitation procedures. This is why it is important to be guided through the process by a trained professional.
Developing an understanding of how the body responds and compensates when in pain is crucial to the way a rehabilitation program is designed. Through the process, the patient is educated about the body and shown which movements cause pain, in order to prevent compensation. By compensating to avoid pain, you may prevent the formation of good motor and movement patterns. This knowledge has a direct benefit on the psychological approach to movement and helps accelerate recovery from injury or disease. Educating patients on what they are feeling helps them to differentiate between a normal working muscle sensation, muscle stiffness, or a warning pain that indicates danger or potential injury irritation. Once this is achieved, there is less apprehension within the brain and body which allows a better quality of movement to begin.
Understanding Movement Systems
Following on from pain awareness is educating the patient on movement systems and how pain can inhibit certain muscles from activating or working optimally. Teaching specific and safe muscle activation allows patients to be integrated back into full ranges of motion and strength. This will improve coordination and muscular function which will allow for improved movement efficiency when returning to sport or activity. There are different types of muscular activations depending on the stage of recovery and goals of the movement. Isometric, concentric and eccentric contractions are utilised at different times during the rehabilitation phases. Concentric contractions involve producing a muscular force whilst shortening the muscles, and eccentric contractions lengthen the muscles whilst producing force. Using these contractions at specific phases in rehabilitation we can coordinate neuromuscular activation and improve control throughout movements, increase muscle fibre involvement, and grow the size of muscles.
Mobility and Stability
Mobility and stability might sound like opposites, but they work together to create functional movement when supported by good muscle strength. Joint mobility, or a lack thereof, can seriously hinder movement and muscle activation causing unnecessary discomfort. Improving mobility through corrective warmups and stretching drills will improve your quality of movement. Stability is the ability to control a joint’s position or motion and is highly important. Factors such as aging, disuse, and injury, affect our ability to balance, understand our spatial orientation, and stabilise our body segments. As babies, toddlers, and children we are constantly improving and learning to coordinate movement and balance, yet as we settle into our adult routines, we start to regress and forget how to move well. Repetition is necessary to maintain our sense of balance and stability as we age.
As Biokineticists, our role is to build correct movement patterns into your lifestyle to help you achieve and maintain healthy movement, whether this is for the rehabilitation of an injury or the prevention of an injury or chronic disease. If you feel you lack good quality of movement or just want some advice on an old injury, we are always available to chat. Contact us here.