COVID Deconditioning and Safe Return to Activity via Physical Therapy
Insufficient physical activity (PA) and COVID-related deconditioning is a critical public health issue.
In 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) published guidelines that recommend at least:
- 60 min per day of moderate-vigorous PA for Children (7–17 years), and
- 150–300 min moderate or 75–150 min vigorous PA each week for Adults
These activities should include aerobic or cardiovascular conditioning and strength training. Without this regular exercise and activity, the body will decondition.
Typically, cardiovascular fitness reduces first, and then muscular strength decreases.
As people become less fit and activity becomes harder, they move even less, leading to further deconditioning and down into a vicious cycle.
Deconditioning can also lead to more aches and pains, illness and disease.
It only takes 2 weeks without exercise to reduce cardiovascular fitness. 2-8 eight months of detraining can erase virtually ALL of your gains!!
If you’re looking to reverse the effects of the recent ‘pandemic deconditioning’, know that while you CAN do it. But also know that your body won’t be ready to jump right back in after being on a break.
See simple tips below from your friends at Orthocare Physical Therapy Center
- If you’re a runner, think about a walk to run program
- If you’re a weight lifter, start with lighter weights and less reps.
- Whatever your activity of choice is, start with short periods of activity and gradually work your way back up.
- A good warm up gets your heart and lungs ramped up and prepares your muscles and tendons for the increase in upcoming activity.
- Include some light cardio like jogging, calisthenics, or cycling, followed by active stretching like butt kicks, high knees, or yoga.
- Cool down with some gentle activity. Cooling down transitions your body back to a lower state of stress. Cooling down also reduces your heart rate and breathing, decreases blood flow to your muscles and increases it to places like your digestive system, and helps you relax.
- Add some static stretches during the cool down to work on your flexibility.
- Rest days let your body recover and keep you from getting burned out.
- Not enough exercise isn’t good for you, but too much of a good thing can also cause problems.
Some soreness for a few days after activity is normal, especially if you’ve had a long break. But there are a few common issues to watch out for as you return to activity:
- Swelling or bruising
- Joint pain, especially in the knees or shoulders
- Foot pain, which could be a sign of plantar fasciitis
- Muscle strains – these are particularly common in the hamstrings
- Sprains – most common in the ankle
Any of these issues justifies a call to your physical therapist. Getting checked out regularly can prevent an injury that derails your attempt to return to activity.
Our PTs at Orthocare Physical Therapy Center can help with all of these issues and safely guide you back into a more active lifestyle. Plus, we provide customized Physical Therapy Movement Screens and bridge programs to ensure you reach your activity goals safely.
We also have other great outdoor based tips.
The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association also has a lot of great resources. Click here to access them.
Physical Therapy Can Help
So, do not let COVID-19 hold you back!
Give us a call at 703-310-7610 or email us at email@example.com to schedule your consultation today!