I've been delivering courses on strength and conditioning and programme design to physiotherapists and allied health professionals for more than a decade. Programme design can be an incredibly complicated area (I still can't figure out why it doesn't feature more heavily in a physiotherapists formal training) but does it actually need to be that complicated?
Time and time again I come back to three fundamental components that I believe unlock the door to an effective injury rehabilitation programme. Of course I cover a lot more than just these three concepts during my 2-day course, but I think these are the most important three steps to better injury rehabilitation programmes.
Do you want to know what the three key concepts are that can make the complex seem pretty simple?
Rehab with a purpose - I've talked about this in a previous post but often we get so caught up with the 'injury' that we ignore the most important thing. The end game! One of the first things to understand when developing an effective injury rehabilitation plan is the end game. What does the patient want/need to be able to do. Do they need to be able to catch their grandchild when they jump on them? Do they want to be able to walk up stair two at a time? Do they want to be able to get in and our of their chair comfortably? Do they want to run a marathon? When you know the rehab purpose you can start to make pretty straightforward decisions about all of the other variables (sets, reps, load, recovery, exercise selection etc etc) because every decision you make about the small stuff leads you closer toward the final destination.
Move Beyond 3x10 - Now, I know I said in a previous post that I love 3x10 (I still don't mind them!), but I also explained that just doing 3x10 for every problem you're faced with isn't the way forward. Why? Well it comes back to the first point, rehabilitation with a purpose. If we know the reason what we are returning our patients to, we can then start to make smarter decisions about the micro-variables (sets, reps, loads etc.) that will bring about the specific adaptations we are looking for.
Embrace CHAOS - I've spoken about this previously but this has probably been the hardest sell to delegates attending my 2-day course. You see, we've slept walked into the notion that every movement during the rehabilitation process has to be perfect. I disagree. We want practically perfect (come on the course and you'll discover my love of Mary Poppins), and there are actually times when we want to programme exercises that look down right funky. There are times when we need to let the bumpers down on the bowling alley and embrace some CHAOS and maybe, just maybe some controlled failure.
If you can get the cornerstones in place then building the rest of the programme becomes a little bit more straightforward. When you understand and establish the rehabilitation purpose at the outset, your choices relating to the manipulation of training variables becomes easier at each step of the way.
By understanding the end-game you will have a clear understanding of exactly what your patient needs to be ready for. Because you know what your patient needs to be ready for, you will also be much more comfortable moving away from the 'perfect technique' and embracing some more chaotic and functional activities in the programme.
If you're an allied health professional looking to integrate strength training into your athlete's rehab programmes, check out the courses page for details of my online course and 2-Day live worksops.