Health Club Management March 2018

Page 40

FUNCTIONAL FITNESS

THE PREHAB TREND

Prehab classes – stretch and muscle manipulation for injury prevention – are increasing in popularity. But why have they suddenly taken off and how can operators tap into this trend? ■ By Lauretta Ihonor

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ecent years have brought a paradigm shift in the fi tness habits of the average exerciser. Training goals are at an all-time high and many fi tness enthusiasts are now focused on working out like elite athletes – using the same equipment and exercise methods as professionals. But while HIIT classes and CrossFit sessions deliver the challenge desired by those with ambitious fi tness goals, a big problem remains: gym-goers are pushing their bodies in the same way as elite athletes, but they aren’t getting the same kind of injury-prevention support that athletes receive. It’s a potential recipe for disaster and fitness operators are all too aware of this, which may explain why many are adding prehab classes – designed to minimise members’ risk of injury during exercise by improving poor flexibility, posture and alignment – to their services. PREHAB NOT REHAB “As fitness has become more popular than ever, we’re more aware of our bodies, how we feel and how we should feel. Most importantly, we’re very aware that solutions that prevent injury exist,” says PT and fitness entrepreneur Matt Roberts. The use of muscle manipulation for injury prevention in health clubs is not new. Foam rollers, for example, have long been found in gym cool-down areas. However, according to Roberts, such tools are rarely utilised properly. 40

“Foam rollers and other muscle manipulation devices are often used at the end of a cardio session. But in actual fact, this kind of therapy should be done beforehand to be effective,” he says. And that’s because prehab is based on the principle of getting the body ready for exercise. “By creating a body that’s fully manipulated and mobilised before they start exercising, a person is better able

“ By creating a body that’s fully manipulated and mobilised before exercising, a person is better able to reap the full benefits of their workout with significantly less risk of injury Matt Roberts, Matt Roberts Personal Training

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to reap the full benefi ts of their workout and ensure there’s significantly less risk of injury,” says Roberts. LESSONS FROM ELITE SPORT It’s a principle taken directly from elite sports. In 2009, FIFA’s 11+ injury prevention programme was widely promoted by the organisation as a complete warm-up programme for preventing injuries in amateur football players. Consisting of 15 exercises spanning active stretching, slow running and dynamic functional movements – such as walking lunges and single leg squats – 11+ specifically focused on preventing injury by improving core strength, balance and agility. And it was effective, as indicated by a review published in the British Medical Journal. The review’s authors reported findings from multiple studies that showed that twice weekly performance of the programme successfully reduces the risk of common non-contact injuries – such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) damage – in male and female footballers. Olympic-athlete-turned-fi tnessentrepreneur Tim Benjamin agrees that injury prevention classes are desperately needed in fi tness facilities. When he launched his gym chain, Fitness Space, he was keen to incorporate classes that were specifi cally designed to increase fl exibility, mobility, alignment and core strength. It was a desire that gave birth to the company’s range of Spirit classes (see ‘Where to fi nd prehab sessions’).