Last night I was reading an article in a massage therapy magazine about sports massage. College athletes who were trying out for professional teams were receiving daily massage during their training. The result was fewer overall injuries and quicker recovery from the injuries that did occur. This really isn’t news to anyone in the business of bodywork. We know that lengthening the soft tissue creates a greater range of movement and flexibility that helps protect the body. What really struck me about this article was the use of the word “prehab”.

I had an insightful flash that prehab isn’t just for athletes. We can all benefit from noticing our weaknesses and restrictions and preparing ourselves for challenging situations. We can prevent the need to rehab from injuries by being proactive and taking charge of our health.

In the same way that I like to “pre-hydrate” before a hike, I can prehab for a long car ride or a conference that involves sitting in an uncomfortable chair for several days. I can prehab for a stressful situation like a court date, an exam, or a holiday dinner with the in-laws. I think everyone is aware of the upcoming stressful events in their lives- they are those entries on our calendars that make us cringe or reach for chips or chocolate or vodka. I’d like to propose a more effective and healthier alternative: stress management.

Reducing our overall stress level allows us to better deal with acute situations that activate our fight or flight mode. Strengthening the relaxation response in preparation for difficulties ahead does not guarantee it will all be rainbows and roses, but will certainly reduce the impact on our state of mind. Practicing stress management helps prevent injury (including melt downs or blow ups) and helps us recovery more quickly.

Rather than being a victim to circumstances, we could invest our resources into prehab. Let’s face it, stress happens. Sometimes more than others. There’s no reason to be caught off guard when it does. Taking responsibility for our physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being demands that we take action. The cost of rehab is generally higher and includes more pain than preventative measures. I’m all for anything that removes extraneous suffering from my world. Prehab has just become an important part of my self-care regime. Starting now.

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