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Exercise Physiology Brisbane | Dane Larsen Exercise Physiologist

Principles of Rehabilitation

So, you’ve ruptured your ligament, broken a bone, torn a muscle, or banged up your knee, and you’re out for a while. You’re unsure what the goal is and might feel lost in this new process. 

Don’t worry; you’re not the only one! At some point, the rehabilitation process comes for all of us, and boy, is it a rollercoaster ride (a little like the stock market!). 

The good news is that on the other side of this, there’s the opportunity to become a stronger, more robust individual with a better understanding of how your body moves and how to take care of it. 

Think of it like your own personal toolkit that you can now draw on for the rest of your life. Pretty cool right?  Until then, here’s your go-to guide for getting the best out of your rehab:-

1. Look at Rehab as an Opportunity

Although pain sucks, it’s a strong motivator for change. It’s why you’re here. If we’re in pain, it means something in the body can be built back better, stronger, and more resilient. We can bulletproof that area so it doesn’t happen again. This mindset is super important to achieving an excellent rehab – for we are what we focus on. If you always perceive that this is your ‘bad side’ and ‘it’ll never get better’ than more than likely that’s the outcome you’ll get. However, if we can see the opportunity in it all to become a better version – a 2.0 if you will – then the sometimes long road of rehab will seem worth the wait!

2. Trust the Process

Like any good sports team or workplace; hopefully you have now assembled YOUR team of health professionals to get you back on track! You’ve had your scans, ran through a thorough subjective and objective assessment process to identify key areas of strength and weaknesses in line with your goals, and now you’ve got your exercise rehabilitation program. What’s next? Trust the process! The rehab journey is often full of ups and downs, with three steps forward and the occasional step back. This is normal. When you fall off the horse, remember your team is here to help you along the way!

3. Consistency is King

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it didn’t fall overnight. It was a slow grind both ways. So is rehab. We are what we do repeatedly, so if we don’t get the work in, we sure as anything aren’t going to miraculously get back to where we want to be. It takes time, dedication, and consistency. It’s a slow grind, but the benefits are tremendous. To all the people out there who took the time to get themselves fully right, they’ve never looked back! And they didn’t band-aid their issues, they fixed them for good.

4. Break the Pain Loop

When we’re working to get pain-free, it’s important to focus on happy movements that don’t stir our issue area. Alternatively, what happens is we keep doing the same things that hurt us, it causes pain, then we start to associate that pain with movement. And we choose not to do that movement again. The classic example is lower back pain and deadlifts. Or squats and knee pain. But what we really want to do is start to break that loop and find pain-free exercises that still stimulate the right muscles and cause the release of those feel good endorphins. Then, when we’ve built that foundation up we can start to play around with those challenging movement patterns. We’re looking for that minimal effective dose to get you feeling better and back on your feet!

5. Focus on What You Can do

If you’ve hurt your knee, shoulder, or otherwise, remember – You’ve still got 3 other limbs! Shift your mindset into exercises and activities you can do and you’ll start to change the game. Even working on indirect limbs promotes good hormone and neurotransmitter releases that improve our pain site. Move it or lose it!

6. Recover Like Wolverine aka Eat, Sleep, Rehab, Repeat.

How does Wolverine recover? He heals himself. And guess what? You can too! Sleep and good nutrition are the two key pillar stones of this process and they sure can help speed up the recovery process. Sleep in particular is often considered the number one performance enhancing drug you’re NOT doing – it’s like the night shift of the body, healing and regenerating all the damage we’ve done to the body. It’s also when a lot of powerful hormones get released. Nutrition on top of this, is the energy supply to the cells doing all the powerful healing and regeneration work. If you’re in a nutritional deficit you better believe your body ain’t going to be able to do what it’s good at – and that’s getting you back to full health!


The rehab process is a time to listen to the body and what it needs. There’s a time to push hard, and there’s a time to slow down and let the healing process occur. Big weights with poor form is a bad way to go. Instead, early on in the rehab piece we want to focus on good movement patterns as these will serve us much more down the track.

8. Lowest Hanging Fruit

Part of our job on the journey is identifying your key strengths and weaknesses. And the best place for us to start is with what you suck at the most. Sounds a little harsh! Still, here with the lowest-hanging fruit is our best bang for the buck and where we can start to turn those weaknesses into strengths! Then we’ll have a well-oiled, robust machine capable of handling any situation life or sport throws at it!

Got questions? Hit me up in the comment box below for further advice and information…


Yours in health & wellness, 


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By Dane Larsen

Hi there! My name’s Dane, I'm a Strength & Rehab Specialist, and University Accredited Exercise Physiologist. I help people move better, get pain-free, and bio-hack the system. I’m passionate about empowering others to achieve their goals through a holistic approach to health and wellness.