How To Move Without Pain

Getting Back to Activity after Covid-19

by Meghan Griech, PT, DPT, cert MDT, CKTP

This article takes 6 minutes to read

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Illness of any kind can knock us down, especially Covid19 or the Flu; in energy, in endurance, in motivation. After an illness, finding the ways to recover strength, mobility, and endurance is important and can take days, weeks to months to feel like you have fully recovered.  Sneaking in physical activity to strengthen is important for recovery or having prescribed physical therapy where you can be monitored.

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People who have become ill from Covid-19 experience a wide range of symptoms and degree of symptoms.
Research is showing the same for the recovery from the virus. Some people report shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and coughing that last for weeks to months. 

Even people who were previously healthy and physically fit are seeing lasting effects from Covid-19. 

Prolonged fatigue and reduced activity increases chances of developing blood clots, sarcopenia and even myocarditis. 

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Weakness due to Immobility

Sarcopenia (muscle loss) after bed rest due to injury or illness begins during the first week of inactivity. Studies show muscle loss can be as high as 12%-40% during this time. Among the first muscles to atrophy and weaken are those in the lower limbs, because they resist gravitational forces in the upright position (Parry and Puthucheary, 2015).

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Quadriceps, gluteals, and lumbar extension muscles have primary roles in posture.  The weakness of these muscles can cause fatigue, leading to progressive inactivity and back aches.  This can often lead to progressive weakness of the core muscles as well, further progressing poor activity tolerance.

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The sensation of weakness is further felt due to tendons losing their stiffness with inactivity.
Loss of tendon tension negatively affects the transmission of energy from muscle to bone, reducing the muscles ability to produce effective force. 
When ready to return activity after illness, some precautions should be considered before exercising again.  

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Things to Consider

Anyone who had severe illness or was hospitalized with Covid-19 needs to consult a physician about whether it’s safe to exercise. 
Don’t exercise if still sick or you have symptoms with activity, including fever, chest pain, shortness of breath or heart palpitations. 
Due to increased association of myocarditis after Covid-19, consult a cardiologist before exercising, especially if chest pain, fatigue or shortness of breath.

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*Disclaimer: All information in this article is intended for instruction and informational purposes. The author(s) are not responsible for any harm or injury that may result.  This info is used to supplement not replace any advice you were provided from your doctor or another medical health professional.  No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied with this article.

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Tying shoes to get back to activity after illness, using physical therapy and healthy mobility