Hey guys, this is Cori from Redefining Strength. Welcome to the Fitness Hacks Podcast. This is the show where I share all my free workout and nutrition tips. I’m not going to ever fill this episode with sponsorships or ask you to buy anything. All I ask in return is if you’re enjoying the podcast to leave a review or leave a five star rating or even better share with somebody you think it might help. This will only take a few minutes and would mean the world to me and possibly change the life of someone. So let’s jump right in.

Let’s talk everything prehab. So first, what is prehab? Prehab is the rehab exercises. We do that mobility, stability, flexibility, work that helps us move and feel our best, but it’s done proactively. So when we’re doing rehab, we’re doing it because we’ve had an injury. We’ve had aches and pains, we have mobility restrictions, we have compensations, we have things now that we are working to reverse. When we’re doing prehab, we are doing these things as preventative care or proactively so ahead of having any issues. And a lot of times what we want to think is that our prehab is from our rehab, so our rehab becomes prehab and that we’re taking anything we’ve done to move and feel our best and we’re keeping it in proactively because you can never stop doing what made you better. But we’re also addressing other things that we know in terms of imbalances from lifestyle postures.

We’re addressing things that we’re going to be working. So prehab is not only the mobility work we do outside of our actual routines, it’s what we want our warmups to be because I think a lot of times we feel like we don’t have time for all the things we need to do to move and feel our best, but if we do prehab work as part of every warmup, we’re going to see great returns from even including potentially less time. Five minutes can go a long way, and the reason why is because if you do that three part prehab process, which I’m going to go over today, you’re going to make sure that you’re moving well in your workouts. You’re going to address the daily postures and mobility restrictions that you create from sitting hunched over a computer so that you can actually get the full range of motion out of your workouts and strengthen through that full range of motion to maintain the mobility work you’ve worked hard for.

Sometimes less is more, and when you do it consistently, that little bit is able to build and snowball versus one long mobility workout each week where you’re not doing anything else the rest of the week because you can’t out prehab work your daily postures and positions. And when you go into your workouts, you want to move your best. If you’ve thought, oh, I squat and I have hip pain, oh, I do leg lowers that AB exercise and I feel my lower back. When you’re doing these things, you’re not using the correct muscles and you’re just perpetuating the overload and injury. And if you’re thinking, well, I have great form, the one issue with that is that the more advanced an exercises you are, the more you can mimic proper form because you know what it should look like and the more you’re actually going to compensate and overload areas.

I tell you this because this whole prehab process was originally born out of me getting injured after competing in my first power lifting competition. I was actually Massachusetts, Rhode Island State Powerlift champion, so I was lifting more than I’d ever lifted and then I got injured and it’s because I was mimicking proper form and wasn’t using muscles correctly. And amazingly enough, once I started implementing this prehab process, I am now able to lift more than I was at that point. Crazy, right? So prehab isn’t just about preventing aches and pains, it’s about getting more out of our workouts. This prehab process will help you actually lift more, activate the right muscles, see better muscle hypertrophy. So if you’re looking to lose fat and build muscle, you want to do this well as well as also helping you age functionally well and stay functionally fit. So talking about the prehab process, what is it?

So this is going to be every warmup. It’s going to be part of every mobility workout. It’s going to address flexibility, mobility, and stability. Because if all three things are not addressed, we’re going to still have issues because just stretching a muscle and becoming more flexible. If you don’t have stability, you won’t actually realize the flexibility or you won’t be able to strengthen through the range of motion. If the joints aren’t mobile, it doesn’t matter how flexible muscles are because the joints won’t move through the flow range of motion. So everything has to work together. So the prehab process, foam rolling, stretching and activation, and if you’re thinking, well I do stretching or I do foam rolling and I’m not seeing that great results, it’s because that’s one component. Systems work together. Doing this three part prehab process in that order is what makes it work so well.

Foam rolling is self myofascia release. You’re taking a ball or one of the tools that I have here and the smaller and harder the ball, the more it’s going to dig in. You might’ve seen something like the rumble roar, which allows for the knobs to dig in versus something that’s a little bit softer and doesn’t have any of the knobs to dig in, or even something that’s like this foam roller here, which is even softer. So the softer the tool, the larger the ball, the less it’s going to dig in, which can be really great to start because if you tense against it, you’re not going to see the same benefit. So even if you’re foam rolling on the ground and you’re doing your upper back and that’s too much, you can go against the wall. You, there’s an area that’s harder to dig into.

You can even use something like the bench to be able to foam roll out your hamstring versus using say the roller on the ground. And you might be thinking, why do I want to foam roll? And the reason you want to foam roll is because foam rolling is relaxing and overactive or tight muscle, and so I say overactive and tight because when you’re foam rolling, things like your hamstrings might not actually be short and tight. They might feel tight and be overactive, meaning that they want to compensate for all their muscles or take over for other muscles, but you don’t necessarily need to stretch them more. So foam rolling is that first part in that prehab process in that it relaxes overactive muscles, it inhibits that neuromuscular drive, so you’re not as likely to then recruit the muscle during a movement when it wants to take over for another muscle.

And it can help with joint range of motion, that flexibility, because what you want to think is that before you go stretch something like a shoelace, let’s just say before you stretch a shoelace, you don’t want to nod in it because if you stretch it, then that’s just going to get tighter. Same thing goes for the muscle. You want to make sure that you’re using foam rolling to relax those muscles to help then mobilize the joints, activate the correct muscles, making sure that you actually are able to stretch in a proper way. So foam rolling is that first step. It has been shown to have some mild benefits for recovery, helping with delayed onset muscle soreness or doms, but you’re using it as that first step in your warmup because you want to make sure that you’re relaxing any muscles that might be tight from your daily postures and positions.

Muscles that have tended to be overused and take over. The effects of foam rolling are short-lived, so about 15 minutes after you foam roll, you’re not necessarily going to feel as relaxed as when you first had it done. Just like with a massage, you feel really good coming out and then after a while things start to tighten back up. That’s why it’s key. Use this as the first step and if you’ve been foam rolling a ton and not fully seeing the benefits add up, it’s because you’re then still a overusing muscles not only in your workouts but in everyday life, but you’re also then not capitalizing on the relaxation this provides to then mobilize joints and create that stability. So foam rolling is the first part, and again, if you’re foam rolling and you’re on this roller and you’re rolling out your hamstring and you’re like, oh, I can’t dig in as much, you can use a ball up on the bench, but you also have to think, oh, if I’m tensing against this and you’re going like this, you are not helping the muscle relax and release itself because through a process called autogenic inhibition, when you foam roll and you hold on that spot, you got to actually hold on it.

That’s going to help the muscle relax and release, but you’ve got to be able to relax as you hold. So if you’re doing something where you’re on the ground and you’re rolling out your lat even, so you might be here and that might be too much pressure. So if that’s too much pressure, maybe you take a ball against the wall, you can go up against the wall, you can put the ball there. That can be really beneficial as well. But you want to find something where you can relax into the pressure as you hold. And then not only are you holding on the spot, but then you want to think about how can I move and utilize this muscle because this is sort of a dynamic release and this can be very beneficial when you’re not going to necessarily need to activate a muscle or in the case of your pecs where a muscle might be short and tight, but then it’s also potentially underactive in some movements.

You want to use this dynamic release even overstretching potentially, and it can be very beneficial and that just means that you’re going to move the joints around it or the joints impacted by the muscle through a range of motion. So if you are working on say your hamstring, you could be on the bench and I’ll set this up here, but you could be on the bench and then you could actually extend your knee. And so by extending your knee, you’re tensing relaxing the muscle as you extend out and then relax back down. That can help the muscle relax and release itself as well. But foam rolling is that first step in this preh process. Once you foam rolled, you then want to stretch and again, there is nuance to everything. You can hold on the tight spot as you foam roll to help the muscle relax and release.

You can also use that dynamic movement to help the muscle relax and release depending on the muscle and where the tight spot is and you want to find a few tight spots in terms of how long you hold guys with foam rolling. 30 seconds is usually the minimum. I like up to one minute, but over one minute you’re not necessarily going to see any more benefits. Pick one or two spots and when you’re designing this pre-high process, what you foam roll won’t necessarily be what you activate generally won’t be what you activate, but you might even find that you formula a couple of muscles that are then impacted by the stretching that you’re doing, but you’re not necessarily doing every muscle and every component of the warmup. So after you formula, you want to stretch. Now there are different types of stretching. There’s dynamic and static, which we generally think of.

And static is when you’re holding that stretch dynamic is when you’re moving that joint through a range of motion. In warmups, I generally like to use the dynamic stretching just because that’s going to warm up your body and it’s going to start to work through a range of motion. So things like the dynamic squat stretch are great because you want to think about what movement patterns you’re doing in your workout. So you’re doing squats that day. A dynamic squat stretch is going to help you warm up all the joints involved in that. And after you’ve say rolled out your hips, maybe your TFL something or even your calves, if you have tight calves, lack of ankle mobility after you’ve rolled out those tight muscles, then you’re starting to stretch through the range of motion to warm your body up again, improve the joint range of motion for the movements you’re going to do.

So you always want to think about what aches and pains have I had in the past? What restrictions compensations have I had in the past? What are my daily postures to address those? So again, if you’re hunch over a computer, you’re sitting at a chair, your hips, you’re going to be tight. So foam rolling your hips to then do that dynamic stretch will help you then go into your workout. But you also want to consider what muscles am I working in my workout and what movement patterns am I going to do to make sure that you’re warming those up and mobilizing through them. So when you go into your workout, you’re able to strengthen through the fullest range of motion and use the correct muscles. So with stretching, you generally want to think dynamic before your workout. However, if you have had injuries, aches and pains, you have areas that you know are super tight, your hips really are limited or your ankle mobility is really poopy and you’re working on it, you can use static stretching.

So you might have heard that static stretches can reduce your power output or reduce your strength and your workouts, and while there can have some impact, most of us a aren’t doing necessarily power lifting or competing, so having maximal output is not as essential. However, at the same time, we never want suboptimal if we can help it. We have to note that these studies done on those static stretching we’re of the agonist muscles. So when you’re going into a workout where you’re going to work your quads, you might not want to necessarily then stretch your quads. However you want to think, how can I work the opposing muscle group or stretch the opposing muscle group to make sure that I’m able to then better activate the muscles? I really want to target, if you say I wanted to really target your glutes, even in a workout, you might think, okay, I am going to actually do a static stretch for my hip because in doing this static stretch, right, this static stretcher right here, what I’m also doing is engaging my glute to drive that hip into extension.

We think about stretching as stretching a muscle only, but even when you’re doing a dynamic or a static stretch, you want to think about the opposing muscle that is driving the stretch over just stretching, especially if you’re hypermobile. So if you have, you can extend your elbows pass the point. If you can lock out your knees extra. If you’re hypermobile, you are going to tend to rest on structure. And also a lot of times the muscles that are tight are inhibiting the other muscle that we want to activate. So we want to start that activation process in our stretching. So whether you’re doing more of a dynamic sort of hip stretch or you’re doing a static one, you want to think about squeezing that glute to drive the hip into extension because this starts the activation process. It helps stretch out the muscle on the opposing side of the joint and it’s going to help you really warm up your body.

So it’s key. The nuance of, again, dynamic stretches can be great in the warmup because they’re warming up, they’re mobilizing the joints, they’re moving the joint through the range of motion. However, static stretches could still be included. You just want to be conscious that you are not doing a static stretch for the muscles. You really plan to work as the pry movers in your workout. Okay, after doing the stretching, you want to think activation. Okay, so you notice that there’s a ton of different tools here I had for the foam rolling that you can use. As I mentioned, the softer the object the less it’s going to dig in, so that can be really key to start with. But there’s also different things you can use for stretching as well. If you can’t say reach your foot guys, there’s always ways to modify, and I’m going to do this incorrectly, but if you want to put your foot through the band, there we go.

My brain can work today. And then you want to pull this way, right? You can sort of stretch your hip and quad this way by pulling. So there’s always ways to modify whether you’re laying on your side to the stretch, you’re doing a standing variation, maybe you’re even holding onto a wall and you’re pulling your foot up or looping something around. So you want to think about how you can use different tools to make sure that you’re addressing what you need and modifying based on your level and your mobility. Because if you’re going to force something that you can’t do, you’re going to cause injuries, aches, and pains. Now off of that, again, we’re always thinking about previous aches and pains that rehab becomes prehab. We’re thinking about daily postures and positions. So if we’re hunched over a computer, we want to address that in our warmup, and then we also want to think about the movement patterns and muscles we want to train that day.

So we’ve done our foam rolling to relax overactive muscles. We’ve done our stretching to mobilize joints, get warmed up, improve the flexibility of muscles as well, and we’ve even started the activation process. The last component is that focus activation, and I find this is so often what we ignore, but if you don’t establish a mind body connection before you go into workouts, we’ll tend to revert back to natural recruitment patterns. And natural recruitment patterns are movement patterns. We’ve trained, these are not the ones that we have from being a baby because we’ve done so many things, so many daily postures that now have sort of changed things. Injuries change things, surgeries change things, childbirth, which is a trauma to the body. It’s a beautiful one, but a trauma to the body. Those change things guys, and that changes the way we want to activate muscles and utilize muscles.

If you’ve noticed in your squat that you shift to one side, you are overusing specific muscles and you’re even creating an imbalance. So the prehab work you do, you might be relaxing a muscle on one side and activating a muscle on another side, and you might be addressing muscles differently. So this whole process can be used in so many different ways. But the last component is activation, and in this through a process called reciprocal inhibition, you are continuing to stretch out muscles. You’re also creating not only the mobility and flexibility, but this is where you really get into that stability, which you started with the stretching by focusing on the opposing muscle driving the stretch, but you’re focusing on building that stability. Things like bands can be a great tool to use to really help you activate, but you’re not focused with this on going heavier, okay?

You always need to create progression, but the point of this is the MINDBODY connection, this is where I want you to take pride in. Hey, I can lay on the ground and I can do my body weight glute bridge, and I can make my butt cheek shake just by activating the muscles through that my body connection. That’s your focus right here, because you’re not trying to fatigue things. If you go into your workouts tired and that muscle’s already tired, you’re going to start to compensate and use other muscles to try and keep up with the weights, loads, variations that you’re trying to do. What you want to think about with this is how can I establish my mind body connection so I’m very aware of that muscle so that when I go into the compound movements, I can have that better neural drive, that better communication with that muscle.

I can feel it working to know that I am truly recruiting the correct muscles during those movements because this helps that little establish that. It helps it in an environment where you’re doing isolated moves. So you don’t want to think this is the time to be doing complicated movement squats, even lunges. This is the time to do the glute bridges. It’s to do the silly looking little donkey kicks where you’re kicking back. It’s to do the different things like if you are working on scapular health and you’re working on that shoulder stability using the foam roller against the wall to do the serus anterior work where you’re rolling out and you’re rolling up to work on that scapular elevation, that protraction that control of the shoulder blades because you’ve spent so much time seated at a computer, it’s the time to establish that my body connection through more isolated movements with lower loads for higher reps, and you’re just trying to get that little bit of pump and burn to the muscle, not fully fatigue it, but this activation will help you then create that stability and mobility of joints to go into your workouts.

Now, it’s key with all three of these steps that when you go into your workout, you then strengthen through the full range of motion. If you’ve just been working on your hip mobility and then you go squat like this and you don’t even squat to the bench that you’re going to, you are only strengthening through a limited range of motion and you’re not going to see all that mobility maintained. If you’re going and constantly sitting hunch over your computer and never addressing that and you’re sitting for long hours, you’re not going to see all this mobility work maintained. But that’s why doing it in part of your warmup or your warmup consistently throughout the week is so key over just one day and then making sure that your workouts address strengthening through the fullest range of motion, but proper recruitment patterns. What do you feel working?

If you have an imbalance, if you shift to one side in your squat, if you find that your shoulders move differently in movements, going and doing a bilateral move where you’re locked in and you can’t allow each side to move independently, not addressing that in your prehab work, you’re going to see overloaded injury occur. So you need to make sure that you’re thinking, okay, I might have an imbalance and I have to address that in an imbalanced way. Again, that might mean activating one butt cheek and not the other because one is stronger and one is weaker. It might mean doing foam rolling on one side but not the other. You’re going to have to address things independently, and this is where getting your movements assessed is super, super important. But that is the prehab process, and as unsexy as it is, as much as sometimes when you’re short on time, the last thing you want to do is that even if you take one thing and you’re like, okay, I spent time hunch over the computer, I’m going to roll out my chest to open that up, then I’m going to do the world’s greatest stretch, so I address everything.

There are a lot of great sort of movements that are full body stretches where you step outside your hand, you drop your elbow down, you rotate towards the front leg, and again, you’re even thinking activation here, how can I engage my back to pull my chest open? How can I squeeze my butt cheek to drive that leg straight? How can I focus on my foot’s connection to the ground so that I’m not rocking open and creating space? Right? Then you’re sitting back and as you’re hinging, you’re not just leaning forward, you’re thinking about how can I push my butt back to truly stretch my hamstrings, bracing my abs? You’re focusing on all these things, right? And that’s going to warm up your body. So all you did was a foam rolling for your chest. You did the world’s greatest stretch and maybe you do a loo bridge, and then you’ve addressed different things that you’re going to need for your workout, and it’s three moves.

And while that might not seem like a lot, those things pay off and that consistency done daily will really help. But you need to address the fact that you are doing specific postures positions during everyday life that then can impact what you can strengthen through in your workouts. And guys, if you’re seeing neck aches and pains, shoulder aches and pains, feeling like you’re not getting the most out of your workout, because again, even activation starts to drive that muscle hypertrophy, and if you want to even see better hypertrophy, you’ve got to be able to work through a full range of motion because we’ve seen great results from lifting and weighting down moves when the muscles are stretched. So if you want to really truly stretch a muscle, you’ve got to be able to work through the full range of motion. So make sure that you’re doing this prior to your workouts to move the best in your workouts as much as it can be tempting to skip the stuff when you’re short on time, and then anytime you can throughout the day, because this is about just also getting up and moving more. Add in a foam rolling, move against the wall, add in that chest stretch when you walk through the doorway, add in a little glute squeeze when you’re waiting in line of the grocery store, but adding a few of these different things just to focus on how you can also help yourself move better. Because we can’t simply just out mobility work, daily postures and positions. We can’t out mobility work, not training through a full range of motion in our workouts, as key as this is and as much as it really pays off.

Thanks for listening to the Fitness Hacks Podcast. Again, this is the place where I share all my free work, workout, nutrition tips. I’m never going to run sponsorships or ask you to buy anything. All I ask in return is if you’re enjoying the

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