Active rehab is a paradigm shift from the old model of medicine.
We used to hear Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate, with a large emphasis on resting and limiting movement. These days we’re advised to get moving as soon as possible and use our range of motion within our comfort tolerance.
Yes, after a traumatic injury a necessary ‘protection’ period is recommended where we might have to wear a cast or splint to keep the area immobilized, but this time is shorter than you think (Physiopedia, n.d.). Waiting too long to start moving can have a detrimental effect on healing such as limited joint range and loss of strength.
The same concept applies to our whole body. Movement and exercise is beneficial because it helps to restore physical function, reduce pain, and improve overall health. Active rehab is a powerful tool in health because it helps you move, feel, and live better and return to the activities you want to do.
Get Moving to promote tissue repair
Movement is a recommendation that rehab experts make earlier in the rehab process than in our parent’s generation. Getting moving after an injury doesn’t need to be delayed a month or two as we once thought as the body starts to heal-research shows that we can start with gentle loading as early as 2-10 days which will help promote tissue repair (Mikkelsen et al., 2017).
And added movement during rehab isn’t restricted to specific types of injuries, but a wide range of conditions. Some examples of issues that would benefit from active rehab are: sprains or strains, post-concussive symptoms, preparation for or post surgery, joint conditions like arthritis, and injuries from motor vehicle accidents. Learn more about which injuries and conditions are treated by active rehabilitation here.
You're covered after a motor vehicle accident injury
Active rehab led by a kinesiologist is increasingly recognized as a necessary early-stage rehab treatment for soft tissue injuries, especially those associated with whiplash after a car accident. Here in British Columbia, the inclusion of pre-approved kinesiology sessions covered by ICBC within the first 12 weeks after a crash was a big stepping stone for making active rehab known in the therapy space. These days, kinesiologists work very closely with physiotherapists to create the the best treatment plans for their clients, often in a multidisciplinary clinic.
Take it one step at a time, safely
An active rehab program focuses on strengthening muscles, improving flexibility and stability, and increasing endurance. We need muscle strength and joint mobility for almost everything we do at home, work or play. From cooking a meal for our family or going for a hike, muscle strength is required for movement. By engaging in exercises that are specifically tailored to your needs and goals, active rehab programs can help clients to improve muscular strength and endurance by increasing the number of repetitions and sets of the exercises.
Unlike passive treatment like massage therapy, active rehab is something you participate in every session. With gradual progression of weights and repetitions (how many times you do/lift something), we can return to the demands of normal life. Think about it like opening a curtain in the morning-whipping open the curtains to bright sunlight is pretty uncomfortable for the eyes, but opening the curtains in small sections at a time is much more gentle and allows us to get accustomed slowly to the new light. With strength training it works in the same way-increasing weights and demands in a tolerable way reduces our chances of re-injury and soreness and helps assist your body’s natural healing process towards recovery.
Get back to daily life with active rehab
Improving balance, strength, and coordination will in turn increase your independence. It can also help improve emotional well-being by reducing stress and building confidence. Additionally, active rehab can help clients to develop healthy lifestyle habits and participate in social activities.
Have an injury and aren’t quite sure yet if active rehabilitation would be right for you? Speak with a kinesiologist today to learn more.
Mikkelsen, U. R., et al. (2017). Early versus delayed rehabilitation after acute muscle injury: a randomized clinical trial. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(15), 1090-1096. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2016-096545.
Physiopedia. (n.d.). POLICE Principle. Retrieved February 25, 2023