What is Active Rehab?

What is Active Rehab?

In this blog, our Kinesiologist Erin Brucker, explains active rehab; what it is, how it’s different from regular physiotherapy, who might be a good fit, and information on why active rehab is important.

What exactly is Active Rehab?

Active rehabilitation is a recovery based program in which the client plays an active role. The client participates in the rehab, compared to someone performing rehab on them. These programs are directed toward the clients injury, history and current abilities. The goal of active rehabilitation is to increase function and overall strength and this type of rehabilitation consists of exercises and stretches, but can include other aspects such as cognitive exercises, nutrition and rest. Active Rehabilitation includes but is not limited to: mobility, stability, strength and endurance training  through client specific exercises and progression.

How is Active Rehabilitation Different from Physiotherapy or Kinesiology

Kinesiologists and Physiotherapists are both knowledgeable in active rehabilitation, and both perform this type of rehab in their practice. However, physiotherapists are also trained in various passive modalities such as massage, electrical stimulation, dry needling, therefore, active rehab would be one more aspect to that. Whereas, kinesiologists are not usually trained in passive modalities and their main treatment method is through active rehabilitation. Therefore, this is a Kinesiologist’s main role as a rehab practitioner. They work with clients to develop a program that will work for the client and their injury towards goals by increasing mobility and strength.

How is Active Rehabilitation Different from Physiotherapy or Kinesiology

Active rehabilitation is for many people! Active rehabilitation is for those who are looking to get back to doing activities of daily living or sport, for those experiencing pain and for those who want to increase function and strength. Some situations in which active rehab could be beneficial may include post-concussion, musculoskeletal (muscle, bone or tendon) injury, preparation for surgery, strengthening after surgery, motor-vehicle accident injury as well as others.

Why is Active Rehab Important?

Active rehabilitation has many benefits with the main ones being to increase function and strength while decreasing pain. Active rehabilitation provides an outlet for increased autonomy in the clients rehabilitation journey. It allows the client to build confidence in completing exercise and tasks performed pre-injury in order to get back to those activities in full.

The goal is to progress the client to be confident in doing most or all activities that they were doing before their injury. By increasing mobility and strength, we can prevent injury for the future, help the client complete day to day tasks and get back to what they were doing before injury.  Our bodies are made to move. Increasing the capacity at which we can do this is a major player in quality of life. Research shows that exercise increases cardiorespiratory fitness, improves mental health, leads to improved health outcomes, decreases risk of disease, decreases injury, and many more.

Still curious about starting your active rehab journey? Consult with our Kinesiologist Erin here.

Ruegsegger, G. & Booth, F. (2018). Health benefits of exercise. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med, 8(7). doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a029694.


The Physio Shop specializes in evidence-based physiotherapy and massage therapy in a sweet commercial drive clinic, with a friendly barbershop feel. Plus, we do virtual sessions too, because 2020 right? If you’re dealing with nagging aches and pains, schedule a session with our finest Physiotherapists or Massage Therapists today. Or stop by and say hello to Sophie, that works too.

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