By Gareth Bennett
What Is Prehab?
Prevention is better than the cure! Prehab, or prehabilitation, is a style of training used mainly by athletes, which aims to prevent injuries before their actual occurrence. However, prehab is not just for athletes – this form of training is also prescribed to patients awaiting orthopaedic surgery, as this initial training will reduce their post-operative recovery time.
Maria started her running career seven years ago when she was 37 years old, and even though she was a late starter, she quickly realised she was a natural. She joined her local running club, Wye Valley Runners, and started doing 10k races and competing in the cross-country league. Because of her talent and commitment, she was soon placing in the top 3 in local events and was nominated The Most Improved Runner at Wye Valley Runners.
Due to Maria’s success at the cross-country league, her next progression was to compete at longer distance events, with her ultimate goal being the London Marathon. Unfortunately, it was around this time when her injuries began to occur. Maria said:
“I was so focused on running… That was all I ever did! I was running six days a week with no auxiliary strength training or cross training in general. During the Hereford Half Marathon in 2015, I could feel a niggle in my hip, which I just ran through, but the day after my glutes swelled up. I got myself checked out by a physiotherapist, who diagnosed a torn gluteus maximus muscle. Over the coming years the injuries kept coming, ranging from hip, knee and ankle problems to plantar fasciitis. You name a running injury, and I have had it.”
“I love running so much, so I just kept at it. When I tore the cartilage in my knee and I couldn’t run for six months, I joined the gym and started doing exercise classes. Six months later I was able to get a few miles in, and I started competing again.
“I did manage a couple of marathons, including London and Paris, and although I was happy with my times, it took my body months to recover properly.
“In 2017, I entered the Man versus Horse Race. It is a 22 mile cross-country race, but I had to pull out eight miles from the finish due to chronic hip pain. This was devastating for me and I was close to tears on the way home. The psychological impact of this failure affected my confidence at running for a good few months.
“In 2018 I was entered into the London Marathon, but I had to defer my place till 2019 because I was suffering with knee pain and I couldn’t do my long training runs. In 2018 I started to see sports therapist John Richards, who has been amazing at helping me keep on top of my niggles. This included reducing tightness and mobility issues with massage and acupuncture techniques.
“I have been seeing Gareth for prehab work for around five months prior to the 2019 London Marathon, and as a result, I am running the best I have been for years! He makes me do exercises that I would have generally dismissed before and I am also now taking a smarter approach to training.
“For example, instead of running four to five times a week, I am only running twice a week, adding two strength classes, a prehab session, as well as a treatment session with John. I am currently at the long distance training phase for my marathon, and my body feels stronger and more resilient, with none of the previously recurring injuries showing up. I wish I had taken this approach earlier on in my running career.”
From Gareth Bennett’s Perspective:
“It has been an immense pleasure training such a committed athlete! The past few months, and especially the fact that Maria completed her marathon with no injuries, show how important prehab training is for runners. Due to the high impact and repetitive nature of running, prehab is an essential component of any serious runner’s training regime if they wish to enjoy many years of injury free running.”
Gareth Bennett is a Personal Trainer at Train-GB and Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for Team GB Paralympic Goalball Team.
For more details, or to book one-to-one sessions at a number of Hereford gyms please contact Gareth Bennett at TRAIN GB. Home visits also available.
Tel: 07429 132 276
Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.