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What is Active Rehab?

Active rehab is a one-on-one exercise therapy that is overseen by a kinesiologist. Find out everything you need to know about active rehab.

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Active Rehab 101 - everything you need to know

Just like it sounds, it’s an active form of rehabilitation, meaning that clients aren’t getting manipulated, but they are actively moving in their session. Unlike passive treatments such as physiotherapy or chiropractic, active rehab clients stretch, roll and exercise during their session. Kinesiology is the study of human movement, so kinesiologists are the practitioners best suited to oversee active rehab.

Active rehab is an evidence-based medical technique which is sustainable for long term treatment. It is designed to facilitate recovery of soft tissue, joints, muscle, and the nervous system after injuries.

Evidence-based means that active rehab is rooted in science, and specific movements are evaluated using rigorous scientific scrutiny. An overwhelming body of evidence supports these positive outcomes for active rehab in the treatment of injury and pain.

Active rehab can be strenuous. Oversight by a kinesiologist is essential to make sure clients are not only challenged appropriately, but  that each movement and exercise is done precisely and efficiently. The kinesiologist will help clients set a baseline for a range of motion, flexibility and strength and help them set goals along with a treatment plan in order to most efficiently achieve these goals.

ICBC Active Rehab

Active rehab is one of the treatment options available to ICBC clients, for anyone in a car accident in British Columbia. ICBC recognizes kinesiology and active rehab as an integral part of recovery from a car accident. Thanks to new rules from ICBC affecting any car accident since April 1st 2019 mean clients can start active rehab sooner.

ICBC is shifting towards a client care model and away from litigation. In the past clients had to get doctor’s and their adjusters approval to start active rehab, often delaying treatment and forcing many clients towards seeking legal counsel to advocate for their well-being.

ICBC clients are pre-approved for 12 active rehab sessions within 12 weeks of their car accident, and don’t need to get a referral from a doctor to get started with active rehab (although doctor’s note is generally recommended). These changes apply to open claims where the accident date was more recent than April 2019, and within the last 12 weeks. Getting started on rehab sooner helps clients more quickly define goals, create a treatment plan and overcome injury.

ICBC Active rehab is about empowering clients. Programs can last from 3 months up to a few years depending on circumstances, set backs, or pace of progress. The kinesiologist overseeing the program will assess the effectiveness and length of the program. The kinesiologist cues, trains and motivates their client during each session. This way, clients take an active role in their recovery and regain control and optimal function of their body. An active rehab program ends when clients have progressed as much as possible and are able to continue their program without oversight.

In-studio or tele-health (online) sessions your kinesiologist will guide you through your active rehab assessment and session.

Active Rehab Helps Clients With

Motor vehicle accident injury (ICBC active rehab)

Lower back pain

Neck and shoulder pain

Long term disability

Chronic pain

While injuries resulting from a car or motor vehicle accident (MVA) will range in type and severity, the most common and widespread are soft-tissue injuries. Most people don’t realize just how painful muscles can get, and attribute their pain to bone, joint or nerve damage. Painful muscles are the result of a state of inflammation and stiffness, it’s our body’s reaction to protect and guard itself against further trauma. Our anxieties about pain, rather than actual tissue damage, commonly slow the healing process because MVA victims become overly protective and movement becomes limited.

This protective response is very common and understandable, but clients who are capable of exercise need to use movement to get back to their former level of function. An active rehab program is designed to move and relax our muscles and get them back to working in a functional and productive way. To be safe, kinesiologists use a standardized questionnaire to ensure clients are capable of exercise, and when in doubt will always defer to the recommendations of a doctor or referring physiotherapist. 

Kinesiologists prescribe exercises with varying goals ranging from strength and endurance to more precise and targeted muscle control. With lower back pain for example, strengthening the muscles of the lumbar region at the core that connects to the spine will reinforce the support structure of the spine. Core stability exercise can be viewed as the enhanced ability of the muscle to control and protect the spine from damage and reinjury (Hodges, 2003). Another example is reducing chronic neck pain by increasing the range in which we can comfortably turn, bend or lift our heads (Ylinen, 2003).

The goal of active rehabilitation is to increase stability in weak areas of the body that are prone to damage in order to reduce the risk of recurrent issues. By strengthening these areas, active rehabilitation also helps reduce the amount of overcompensation by surrounding muscles.

By learning to recruit more core or deep neck musculature, individuals build more confidence in everyday movements and positions like prolonged sitting, standing up, kneeling down, crouching, squatting, or carrying. 

It’s hard to oversell the benefits of active rehab to people with injuries from a car accident. The long term benefits of active rehab include:

Decreased scar tissue in muscle

Improved heart and lung function

Increased bone density

Decreased risk of injury when trying new activities

Decreased risk of injury with falling

Increased endurance in recreational interests

Decreased fatigue with day to day activities

Increased confidence/self-efficacy

Increased energy/metabolism

Why choose Symmetrix for Active Rehab?

Symmetrix Exercise & Rehab is a private studio specializing in active rehab. That means our clients are in a one-on-one sessions with a professional kinesiologist – not doing their sessions in front of a gym full of people working out. We’ve helped hundreds of ICBC clients with a wide range of injury types get back to the activities that they love. 

Our clients benefit from working with a kinesiologist with a breadth of rehab experience that provide exercise plans  and support. Given the pandemic and our recent “pivot” to digital, we now have expertise with virtual, online sessions so clients also have the option to do sessions from home, online. 

The positive outcomes our active rehab clients regularly experience are:

Less pain

Increased strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness

Improved body mechanics, awareness and function

Return to sports or recreation activities

Improved mental state

Weight loss


Exercise skills and a workout enjoyment

Our ICBC clients can focus on their own rehab because we deal directly ICBC. We work with our clients’ claims specialist and healthcare team, including physiotherapist, chiropractor and doctor to create a treatment plan tailored to each client. We do the billing, reporting and liaison with ICBC so our clients can focus on becoming healthier and stronger.

As Symmetrix clients progress through their active rehab program they become increasingly independent – until they no longer need our services. We help develop healthy routines at home to improve long term wellbeing for life. 

Your Active Rehab Team

Patrik uses a holistic approach considering biological, psychological, and social factors in designing client treatment programs.

Anaïs studied how temperature affects human performance in sport and work, testing heat impacts to performance on firefighters.

Chris joined the health and fitness industry over two decades ago. He’s adept at helping clients with musculoskeletal injuries.

Where to Find Active Rehab

Symmetrix Yaletown
Symmetrix Burnaby Heights