Help, I’ve injured myself, and I don’t know what to do to feel better!
Recovering from a new injury can be a scary and daunting task. It can be challenging to know where to start without a recovery plan. Enter stage left, active rehabilitation!
Instead of “toughing it out” and seeing what happens, there are many benefits to starting an active rehab program to regain your strength and reduce disability after an injury.
But what is active rehabilitation, and how can it help me?
The Basics - What is Active Rehabilitation?
Active rehabilitation is precisely as it is named - it is an active form of rehabilitation after an injury. Whether you have been in a motor vehicle accident, have sustained a workplace injury, or have a long term disability, active rehabilitation therapy can be used to help your body repair and recover.
Active rehabilitation is a long-term evidence-based medical treatment designed to facilitate recovery after injuries. Active rehab is used to treat various areas of the body, including soft tissue, joints, muscle, and the nervous system.
The goal of active rehabilitation is to increase stability in weak areas of the body that are prone to damage to reduce the risk of recurrent issues. By strengthening these areas, active rehabilitation also helps reduce the amount of overcompensation by surrounding muscles. Active rehabilitation is also used to help reduce joint stiffness, help with chronic pain, and to increase joint range of motion.
Active rehabilitation utilizes many different therapy options, including:
- ICBC active rehabilitation
- Pool therapy (low impact)
- Exercise therapy
- Fitness training
- Online coaching and classes
Active rehabilitation is coordinated and administered by a kinesiologist (a person trained in the science of human body movement). When beginning active rehabilitation therapy, a kinesiologist will meet with a client to discuss injuries, medical history, and the desired outcome of the treatment. They will also complete a thorough assessment of the client’s current functional level, which is used to create the client’s treatment plan.
The overall concept of active rehabilitation is to engage and strengthen muscles within the body that are not being utilized properly. This results in the client regaining control and function of muscle groups they may not have even known they had before!
Active rehabilitation requires effort and commitment from the client. This is no walk in the park or a one-stop-shop for correcting an injury. Active rehabilitation therapy involves being prepared to sweat, work hard, and understand that results are not instantaneous.
The team of kinesiologists works with clients, encouraging them throughout the treatments. Through this motivation and participation in the therapy, the client can start to regain control and function over their body. Consistent effort and repeat sessions (normally 1 to 3 times a week for best results) are necessary to succeed in active rehabilitation.
Sticking with active rehabilitation has its advantages. Long term commitment to this therapy is linked to:
- Decreased muscle scar tissue
- Improved cardiac and pulmonary function
- Increased bone density
- Reduced risk of falls and future injury
- Increased activity endurance
- Increased energy for daily tasks
- Increased metabolism
- Increased self-confidence and independence
With so many benefits, active rehabilitation is a great option to help anyone recover from an injury!
What Conditions Can Active Rehabilitation Help Treat?
Active rehabilitation is a fantastic therapy option for a variety of different injuries. Conditions that are improved with active rehabilitation include:
Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries and ICBC
After an accident, active rehabilitation can be ordered by a physician through ICBC. Active rehabilitation can help clients get back on their feet and recover stronger than before.
Chronic Lower Back Pain and Injury
For clients suffering from chronic lower back pain, active rehabilitation is a great option! Focusing on core strengthening exercises to stabilize the lumbar spine has been associated with reduced lower back pain. 
Neck and Shoulder Pain and Injury
Sitting at a desk all day results in neck and shoulder pain and strain. Active rehabilitation with a kinesiologist can target this pain by improving the comfortable range of motion of the neck. 
Long Term Disability
For clients who have experienced long-term disability and injury, it can feel hopeless to regain function and reduce pain. A personalized plan from a kinesiologist will target problem areas and improve strength and mobility.
Workplace Injury and Returning to Work
Active rehabilitation helps clients who are recovering from workplace injuries return to work sooner. Improving strength and mobility can keep clients working longer and safer than before.
How Does A Kinesiologist Make A Personalized Treatment Plan?
When a client arrives for their first active rehabilitation appointment, the kinesiologist will conduct a thorough physical assessment.
The goal of this assessment is to establish a baseline understanding of the current function and strength of the client. The kinesiologist will examine the joints, muscles, and soft tissue to document strengths, weaknesses, range of motion and extent of the injury. This information will be used to create a rehabilitation plan.
When making the plan, the kinesiologist team breaks down the muscle groups into two generalized categories - The Big Movers and The Stabilizers.
The Big Movers function primarily is to create movement. These are the large muscles that control our arms and legs.
The Stabilizers work to support our joints, rather than create movement. These muscles are responsible for stabilizing our weight-bearing joints throughout the exercise and preventing joint injury.
Understanding these two concepts is essential to understand why and how the kinesiologist creates a treatment plan. Exercises focus on the progressive strengthening of the stabilizer muscles are crucial to reducing further injury to weight-bearing joints. When our stabilizer muscles are weak, we off-load the work of maintaining the joint onto our big mover muscles, which results in further injuries.
With this in mind, the kinesiologist will create a plan that the client will work through at least 3x a week to develop muscle strength in weak areas to create additional support. This is not an easy task, but the kinesiology team is there to cheer the client on and encourage them to keep pushing to see results!
What is Symmetrix?
Symmetrix is your local exercise and rehab facility located in Vancouver and Burnaby! We are an energetic team of athletic therapists and kinesiologists ready to help you recover from your injuries stronger and faster.
Independent and committed to our Symmetrix clients and family, we are ready to help make a difference in your recovery today!
- Akuthota, Venu, et al. "Core stability exercise principles." Current sports medicine reports 7.1 (2008): 39-44.
- Ylinen, Jari, et al. "Active neck muscle training in the treatment of chronic neck pain in women: a randomized controlled trial." Jama 289.19 (2003): 2509-2516.