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Fitness Program “Pre-hab”

The term “Pre-hab” was first introduced to me in early 2006 when I first met the author of ChiRunning, Danny Dreyer. Interesting how other authors have now decided to use the term also, but I am not surprised since it so accurately describes an alternate path we can take in our fitness programs. An overall objective of most fitness programs is to get moving and stay moving consistently. This can be any kind of fitness training; strength training, range of motion, sport, walking/hiking, running, etc.

The most common path we find ourselves on is unfortunately the re-hab path. Re-hab is what happens when our actions create resistance towards consistent forward progress. Re-hab can be anything from the slightest mental hesitation to what is necessary after a complex surgery. The risk is too our mobility; and to some degree when our mobility is compromised so is our health.

The other path is the “Pre-hab” path that results from a fitness “practice”. Pre-hab is preventative and offers a way to completely avoid the rehab path. Here are some potential physical and mental characteristics of each path.

Re-hab Path Characteristics:

  • A Mind over Body approach and hoping for the best
  • Increases apprehension, fatigue, discomfort, aches/pain, injury, and even surgery
  • External goal orientated, usually short term motivation
  • Accepts existing habits unconsciously without considering principle
  • Focused on training harder and just getting “through” the workout
  • Creates resistance leading to inconsistency; stop-go-stop-go …
  • Develops fear of the next re-hab event
  • Has a high potential for frustration

Pre-hab Path Characteristics:

  • A Mind/Body “practice” of self discovery, ie. ChiRunning.
  • Increases energy; and reduces chance of discomfort, aches/pains, injury, surgery
  • Internal process orientated, develops skills for long term success
  • Creates new supportive habits consciously based on principle
  • Focused on training smarter based on the body’s design, physics and nature; and getting something “from” the workout
  • Creates momentum, consistency and confidence
  • Develops a “knowing” on how to re-adjust the process before a small issue becomes a major event
  • Has a high potential for enjoyment and self satisfaction

As you move through life, the choices might once again resemble this analogy:

The re-hab option results in some forward progress then a pause with resistance, and repeat. Getting restarted is harder; and even harder as we get older. The pre-hab option, such as ChiRunning or ChiWalking, results in increasing potential as a function of increasing skill. Each incremental success gives us momentum and confidence to consider a slightly “bigger” experience. In short, we become more so we can experience more. This is what happens as we pass each test and each grade in school. If your life has been an ongoing process of learning, why would your fitness programs be any different?

The choice of a fitness and life path is of course, yours.


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David Stretanski is a holistic health, fitness and wellness coach and Certified ChiRunning®/ChiWalking® Instructor. For more information on David, please see his About Me,Contact page or his website at

ChiRunning® and ChiWalking® are registered trademarks of ChiLiving, Inc.


Posted on Monday, Mar. 28th 2011 4:39 PM | by echifitness | in All, Barefoot/Minimalist, ChiRunning, ChiWalking, Fitness, Wellness | 2 Comments »

2 Comments on “Fitness Program “Pre-hab””

  1. Eric Tobias Says:

    Re-Hab? I thought that ChiRunning should not get you hurt? I am saying that with “tongue in cheek”. I have been working on ChiRunner for more than a year. I definitely have a lot more to learn but I have not seen ChiRunning preventing me from being injured, mainly the hamstrings and calves. I guess no matter how much ChiRunning is supposed to decrease the possibility of being injured so many other contributing factors come into play, i.e., not warming up on a cold day before races or speed workouts or increasing ones mileage too drastically. It may be hard to remove running form from the other factors when talking about injuries. That is my only problems with ChiRunning; it does not decrease my quantity of injuries, which is frustrating.

  2. echifitness Says:

    I assume you realize that ChiRunning is the Pre-hab path and not the Re-hab path.

    If you have been practicing ChiRunning for some time and still getting injured, then the Q is what adjustments to your technique or your program are necessary to avoid them?

    ChiRunning utilizes principles for reducing hamstring effort, reducing lower leg/calf effort, warming up into any run, doing speed intervals via technique (and not muscle) and how to increase mileage safely (ie. via body sensing and 10% concept). Have you received feedback from a certified instructor on your implementation of these principles?

    An injury can be the result of many interconnected factors. Not addressing one factor does not make another factor the “problem”.

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