While escalating numbers in many states remind us that the COVID pandemic is here for at least the near term, eased restrictions in some locations as the summer pushes on are making it more convenient for folks to get more active. And while that is inherently good, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has relayed some reminders as activity–and the weather–heats up.
“For many sports, it has been three months since the last practice. Cardiovascular conditioning, muscle strength, and flexibility may have declined with need to social distance,” states orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Nicholas DiNubile, MD, FAAOS, in a statement. “Regardless of your activity, it is important to remember to ease into it and be patient with yourself. If you give yourself time, the skills will come back.”
Whether or not someone was active before COVID, extended periods of inactivity can increase the likelihood of injury upon resuming workouts. The AAOS suggests the following:
- Do not increase the intensity or duration of the activity more than 10% per week
- Stay hydrated during your workouts
- Always warm up and stretch before beginning a workout. Research has shown that cold muscles are more prone to injury, and agility type warm-ups can reduce the risk of certain sports injuries like anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and ankle sprains. Warm up with jumping jacks, stationary cycling or running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Wear appropriate footwear
- Use proper protective equipment when applicable
- Establish a routine you can keep
“Enthusiasm to get outside is high and the potential for overuse injuries, broken bones and strained muscles, bones or joints is now heightened,” states Dr. DiNubile. “If we suddenly increase the intensity, duration or frequency of activity more than what our bodies had become accustomed to while social distancing, it can be a shock to the body’s soft tissues and joints, causing inflammation and breakdown. To set yourself up for success, have a realistic view of your current condition and celebrate small victories along the way.”