Off The Road – Training v. Rehabilitation


by Russ Ebbets

We live in a world of dichotomies and they are often of our own making. This either/or life has more than a twinge of self-preservation. With multiple choices, even countless choices, a moment’s analysis can turn into an eternal paralysis. If it is either this or that, up or down, right or left we can make the easy decision and move on, but maturity brings shades of gray.

Politically, you might identify as red or blue, but with any sense at all you are somewhere in the middle. Even gender is not just boy/girl, man/woman anymore. At last count, science has identified a spectrum of 36 sub-types, an alphabet plus 10.

Training and rehabilitation are also a dichotomy. For some, they are essentially the same thing. Sets and reps, goals and achievements are shared components of the two disciplines that can lead one to conclude that, yes, they are the same thing.

What is neglected here is intent. Training for performance is a series of stresses to the body. The intent of these stresses is to create a response that brings the body to a new performance level. This could be documented in an improved race time, more weight lifted or some other increase in volume, intensity or duration of physical work that would allow one to compete and train at the new, higher level. Even the recreational athlete training for general fitness, cardiovascular health or weight or mental stress management does so in a physical state where the athlete proactively pursues a predetermined goal.

The athlete in a rehabilitative state has a different goal, one of return. Rehab is classically defined as a return to a normal state for someone who has been ill or injured. It bears emphasis that one is returning to the “normal” state. While normal might not necessarily be pain-free, it would be without the movement restrictions of being injured. In a rehabilitative state the weekly or monthly training cycles geared towards improvements are put on hold.


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