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How To Get The Best Out Of Your Rehab Work

I deal with a lot of rehab work.

Combat and adventure sports athletes are always getting banged up, so a large part of the service I provide is "un banging" them.

This experience lead to some pretty cool relationships with a couple of excellent physio's that we refer back and forth with.

One thing that does happen though when I'm working with an individual in a rehab setting is the homework.

Oh, quick aside, if your physio isn't giving you homework to do, or referring you to a rehabber like myself, go find a new physio!

Now, homework.

Think of the homework as gradual exposure. Not as a workout.

What we are often attempting to do (or at least the story we tell ourselves about what we're doing....) is to convince the Central Nervous System (CNS) that these motions are safe. That it doesn't need to avoid them. That doing them is beneficial.

Through Gary Ward's incredible work called Anatomy in Motion (AiM), we can see what joint actions the CNS isn't doing, and slowly ask it to start doing them again. Because at one point, it used the joints to their full advantage, at some point, through injury, or training or habit, it stopped.

So the homework I ask you to do is retraining the CNS to reinstall that movement. And to do that requires repeated exposure. So called Gradual Exposure in the CBT world, or Progressive Resistance Training in the Fitness world.

Essentially when I ask you to do homework I'm looking for little and often. Frequent, sub maximal efforts.

I often give the instruction to do the motions for "breakfast, lunch and dinner" to "fidget" with the motions. That one rep is better than no reps. That 5 reps done on the hour every hour, is better than 50 reps done in a single hour.

This does two things.

First, it takes the pressure off. You don't need a dedicated time slot in your day to do your homework. You can do it anytime you get a break (yes, I've one client who does their homework every toilet break......thankfully most AiM is done on your feet!)

Secondly, it means there's less time between exposures to "forget" or to go back to the old pattern.

It also goes way back to my youth and my first and most important coach, the late Sensei Jack Parker (he'll hate that I called him Sensei!!) Jack taught us to practice our Karate all day, every day. He said you can do it brushing your teeth, sitting on the toilet. Even if you're sat on the bus you can be visualising your karate. This was back in the early 90's before visualisation was well known and well used.

He'd tell us to do whatever technique was new, or needed work for a few reps in the kitchen or the bathroom.

You can take this teaching and use it for your skill work or your rehab.

Can you get up now and work on your ankle or knee while still reading this post on your phone? I bet you can. I bet you can work on your right shoulder while you hold your phone in your left hand.

I bet you can work on spinal mechanics while watching the opening credits of your favourite TV show. I bet you can work on breathing mechanics while sat at your desk at work.

Little and often is the real genuine key to long term improvement.

Practice your Karate all day, every day.

Except your Karate may not be Karate, it may be rehab.

Now, the ball is in your court. Lets get on with it....


Dave Hedges

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