Monday, July 11, 2011

Rehab, fitness or play -- exercising appropriately

I heard an interesting idea recently from Dr. Robert Nirschl when I interviewed him in connection with the Washington Post article.  Many of you’ve probably been treated by Nirschl, the Arlington-based osteopathic surgeon known for treating a range of Wimbledon champions from Stan Smith in the 1970’s to Richard Krajicek 30 years later.

Nirschl was making the point that there are different kinds of exercise and reiterated the point many of us forget: you have to condition your body before you play your sport competitively.  He said he sees three categories of exercise:
  1. Medical rehabilitation: moving from an abnormal condition to a normal one. In other words, restoring an injured body part to normal function.
  2. Fitness exercise: moving from normal function to a better level of normal functioning.
  3. Performance exercise: moving from the level of better normal to the exceptional level needed to play a sport competitively.

I find myself going back to Nirschl’s framework in assessing where my body – or various parts it – are at any particular time, especially when recovering from an injury.  Not only does it help keep me focused on the slow re-building of an injured part but it reminds me that the rest of the body is still healthy enough to be exercised.


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