Exercise is the greatest tool a clinician has… if they know how to use it. As a sports injury specialist, my patients and I spend a lot of time in the gym together. I have also been known to lace up and go for runs with my patients.
If you want to resolve a nagging injury, prevent a new one from happening, or simply improve your performance, there is an exercise routine for that. It all just depends on your functional limitations and your goals!
Exercise is medicine
Hundreds of studies have decisively demonstrated the power of exercise when it comes to health. Over 100 chronic conditions respond favorably to exercise.
Musculoskeletal injuries result from a lack of resilience in a specific region of the body. Sometimes these injures are caused by a failure of a tissue (i.e: acute injury), and sometimes they are caused by the excessive and accumulating strain of a tissue (i.e: overuse injury). No matter what type of injury you are suffering from, it is imperative that exercise medicine is part of your treatment plan.
Categories of Exercise Medicine
I like to classify exercise medicine into two categories: Therapeutic Exercise and Fitness Exercise
While I would argue that ALL exercise is therapeutic, the term “Therapeutic Exercise” is generally restricted to the use of exercise in a clinical/therapeutic setting. In this scenario, exercise is prescribed to treat or prevent a particular ailment and/or to improve function. Exercises that address strength, endurance, or range of motion deficits may be used. Below is a list of some types of Therapeutic Exercise:
- Rehabilitation Exercise: This is a form of exercise used to aid injury recovery, and improve the tolerance of an injured tissue to loads and activities.
- Prehabilitation Exercise: This is a form of exercise that is meant to prepare the body for a future injury, making the recovery from said injury easier (Ex: strengthening a knee to prepare for a future ligament reconstruction).
- Preventative Exercise: The goal here is to prevent a specific injury or a common set of injuries (Ex: a runner using exercise to potentially decrease to likelihood of running-related injuries)
Although the boundaries between “Fitness Exercise” and “Therapeutic Exercise” can easily be blurred, the goals of a Fitness Exercise are typically different from the goals of “Therapeutic Exercise”. A fitness exercise program typically focuses on specific aspects of fitness such as Strength, Conditioning, and Endurance, with little emphasis on a specific ailment musculoskeletal ailment. With that being said, a fitness exercise program can be prescribed as “medicine” for other conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.
The way I use exercise medicine
The way I see it, a comprehensive exercise medicine program is one that seamlessly rolls from one category of exercise into another.
For example, I often see runners for a specific running-related injury. As part of their recovery plan, I use “rehabilitation exercise” to manage the injury back to health, I then prescribe “preventative exercise” to help reduce their potential for re-injury, and I lay out a strength and conditioning program that generally improves the overall resiliency of their body, and improves their running performance.
I love spending 1-on-1 time with my patients in the gym crafting personalized programs that target weak points, functional limitations, and progressively build resilience. I also enjoy developing small-group strength and conditioning programs that target specific performance and injury recovery needs.
Are you having a tough time with a nagging injury? Constantly getting re-injured in the gym or during your sport? Want to take your performance to the next level? We should talk.