Guide to Prehababilitation Treatments For Runners

Guide to Prehababilitation Treatments For Runners

By Nordic Balance

Prehabilitation treatments for runners can help prevent injuries and increase performance. ‘Prehab’ is commonly referred to as a comprehensive program of exercises and activities designed to address muscle imbalances and improve flexibility and condition-specific muscles before engaging in running activities. Written by Osteopathy Marco Antonetto, we explore specific rehabilitation treatment and exercises for runners in this article.


What is Prehabilitation?


BJA Education, a leading medical journal, defines prehabilitation as: “the process of enhancing an individual’s functional capacity to enable him or her to withstand a forthcoming stressor, e.g. major surgery”. Prehabilitation was originally a treatment adopted by medical teams before major surgery to improve and accelerate post-surgery recovery.


Later on, prehabilitation became a practice that was embraced in the field of sports recovery as well.


Prehabilitation is all about focusing on the “stress factor” – this could be an upcoming surgery, or it could also be a sports event like a competition, or it could equally apply to a regular training session. As you can see, prehab is integral to any sport or activity – an athlete’s training regime or just an ordinary jogger wanting to protect their body.


Prehabilitation Treatments for Runners


Running is one of the most popular types of sport. Thousands of people take up running every year, and although it is an excellent form of exercise, unfortunately, we do see many running-related injuries. It is estimated that 50% of regular runners annually suffer at least one injury. At any given point in the year, 25% of regular runners cannot perform due to physical issues.


These numbers are incredibly high because running is not an extreme sport and involves no physical contact. But why are there so many injuries occurring? And, most importantly, how can we reduce the risk of injury when running?



One of the most common myths associated with running is the idea of certain ‘natural’ or ‘genetic’ predispositions which prevent a few lucky individuals from experiencing injuries.


This idea that some people are more likely to experience an injury than others is massively flawed – in reality. However, this trait could determine how your body reacts to a specific type of training; it does not affect the frequency of injuries in any way.


What does make a significant difference is how well you plan and organise your training sessions, and you need to do this in a way that fulfils your body’s unique requirements.


When creating your training plan, gender, age, weight, flexibility, and strength are as important as your medical history. It would be best if you considered all these to devise an appropriate and safe training plan.


So, whether you just started running regularly, are a professional athlete, or are planning to run your first marathon, all of these points should be used to build and structure an appropriate training plan. Although the internet usually can answer 99% of your questions, remember that it shouldn’t be relied upon for your training plan, as it won’t take note of any personal details unique to you or your medical history.


The danger of too much too soon, after too little, too long. If you are considering running, you must know that you are incurring a potential risk of injury.


This includes several risks, such as bursitis, tendonitis, muscle strains and more severe stress fractures – all of which can stop athletes from training for a long time and sometimes even stop them from running altogether.


In addition, putting your body under a certain amount of stress for a considerable amount of time can cause problems that medics call overuse injuries.


The human body has an extraordinary ability to adapt and evolve under stress. It can get progressively stronger throughout a training programme. Still, at the same time, one can also lose bone density or muscle mass if the individual’s lifestyle is sedentary. This doesn’t mean that injuries are inevitable for runners; it does, however, mean that some precautions must be taken.


So, starting small and working your way up would be best. Also, allow your body to rest between training sessions so that your muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons, as well as your lungs and heart, all improve gradually.


A training plan is always based on 3 factors and strives to establish the right balance between them. These factors are exercise, diet and recovery.


Much like the fact that a nutritionist is the best professional to consult for dietary advice, physiotherapists and sports and massage therapists organise and develop exercise and recovery plans, including prehabilitation in a training plan to reduce the risk of injury significantly.


According to a study published in 2015 by Van der Worp, the knee is the most common area where runners experience injuries. This is followed by the lower leg, foot, upper leg, ankle, hip/pelvis region and lower back.


A physical assessment performed by a specialist can help you to determine the number of potential areas for concern, including identifying whether a specific joint of the body has a limited Range Of Motion (ROM), whether a muscle is hyper/underactive, causing an imbalance; or any other areas of potential risk, which could cause a future injury.


Specific prehab exercises can be given to the individual to help correct the malfunctioning joint, muscle-tendon or ligament and ensure a safe progression of their running training.


Alternatively, suppose an injury has already occurred throughout the training sessions. In that case, sports massages can help reduce inflammation – by stimulating the blood flow into the inflamed area – and significantly speed up the recovery process. Learn more about the benefits of sports massage for runners.


Prehabilitation Treatment & Exercises for Runners


Prehab exercises and treatments may include stretching, foam rolling, dynamic joint mobilisation and strengthening exercises tailored specifically for runners. For further guidance, you can check out some of our favourite YouTube video tutorials.


Prehab can also focus on conditioning the cardiovascular system while improving core stability and muscular endurance using plyometrics.


Prehab should be incorporated into any serious runner’s training routine to stay safe while achieving optimal results.


Regular prehab treatment increases flexibility, range of motion, and strength, can directly improve running efficiency, help prevent injuries and keep the athlete healthy for many seasons to come. Here are some of our favourite resources.


Stretching Before a Run

Foam Rolling Tutorial

Dynamic Joint Mobilisation Exercises

Simple Strengthening Exercises for Runners

Further reading: What is prehabilitation? The key to avoiding sports-related injuries.


About Nordic Balance


Nordic Balance offers 5-star-rated physiotherapy clinics in St James’s, Central London, Wimbledon and Clapham. For more information about the range of treatments, including physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic, podiatry and sports massage, contact us.


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