Top 10 Ways to Decrease Injury Risk while Working Out Post COVID

By: Jill Murphy, DPT, LAT, CSCS

10. Listen to your body.  Whether it’s an extra COVID 10 or 15, or just not working out the same way you used to in the past two years, show your body some love by slowly progressing your work-out duration and intensity.

9.  Take some time off from working out if you just recently had even a mild case of COVID.  Research is showing that folks with only mild COVID symptoms are still at risk for long COVID.  Take at least two weeks off after your last COVID symptom disappears (other than loss of taste and smell which can take up to a year to return) to protect your heart and lungs from further insult or injury.

8. Be alert for any new or unusual symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or more fatigue than usual and taking more time to recover between workouts, as this could indicate some lingering issues from COVID or from getting the COVID vaccine.  Contact your physician if these symptoms continue and if they limit your ability to participate in your normal work-out activities.

7. Don’t shy away from working out.  Research shows that participating in 150 minutes of exercise per week can reduce your risk of hospitalization for COVID, risk of ICU admission, and reduce the risk of dying from COVID by 2.49x.

6. If you are a COVID long-hauler, be sure to complete lab tests and garner your physician’s stamp of approval before returning to any exercise program.

5. If you haven’t worked out in a while, start slow, building an aerobic base with walking, then alternating walking/jogging, then finally to higher intensity activities like running, strength training, long distance cycling, swimming, and stair running.

4. Don’t forget to strength train!  After the age of 30, we lose 3-8% of our net muscle mass each decade.  Targeted strengthening exercises are necessary to counter-act this muscle loss, whether pumping iron in the gym or performing a body weight strength training routine.

3. Get some Vitamin D!  We’ve all been cooped up for way too long, so don’t forget to take advantage of the longer days of spring to do some of that exercising outside while soaking up some rays.  Plus, the added calming benefit of natural surroundings will help counter-act the impact of that excess screen viewing from the past two years on your nervous system!

2. Prevent injuries by easing into harder work-out routines (no 30-minute YouTube exercise sessions the first day!) with a warm-up and cool down afterward.  Give your body plenty of fuel with healthy food choices and plenty of water.  Also don’t forget to pencil in recovery days, even if you think you didn’t work out hard enough to need it.

1. Don’t ignore any new aches and pains.  Utilize ice right away, modify your work-out routine, and if the pain is still present after one week, see your physical therapist right away for a complementary injury screening to get some expert advice to get back to your normal work-out routine without delay.