The Southeastern Spine Institute

Why Can’t I Jump Back into My Exercise Routine?

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, lockdowns and quarantines have largely passed, you may be looking forward to getting your life back. But take heed before restarting your pre-COVID exercise routine. The months of inactivity in your home has probably taken a disastrous toll on your body. While you may not feel the effects right now, you’ll realize just how unfit you’ve become once you begin doing post-COVID exercises.

If you’re feeling back pain or you’ve put on weight, especially around your midsection from eating unhealthy food during the pandemic, take extra precautions. Any post-COVID exercise may cause you more harm than good, as your body reacts to the sudden exertion. To be safe, consult the spinal medicine specialists from the Southeastern Spine Institute before you start any new exercise regimen. The experts — your doctor and a physical therapist — create a personalized post-COVID exercise plan to provide safe, optimum fitness results.

How Did the Physical Inactivity Impact My Health?

Before the COVID pandemic, only one in four Americans — and one in five high school students — were physically active. Once the restrictions hit, this country saw a 28 percent increase in inactivity and unhealthy food habits. While the lack of activity was widespread, it hit older Americans hardest, as does its effects.

A decrease in physical activity increases your risk to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other obesity-related conditions. But while exercise is healthy, you may experience problems if you don’t ease into a post-COVID exercise, such as:

  • Muscle fatigue, cramps and general soreness
  • Back pain, especially from your lower back
  • Shoulder and neck pain
  • Pain in your knees
  • Pain in your legs, especially from your hamstrings
  • Pain at the back of your ankles or at the bottom of a foot

How Can I Safely Get Back in Shape?

Start slowly. Even if you ran 10K races before COVID, you must coax your muscles back into shape while rebuilding your endurance. Forcing your body to exercise after a long dormant period can lead to muscle strains or even a serious spine injury. Listen to your body while restarting your exercises; stop immediately if you feel pain or get a cramp.

Depending on how active you were before COVID, your spine specialist may make suggestions that include:

  • Before starting any sort of post-COVID exercise, warm up your muscles by walking or doing some light stretching exercises.
  • Try yoga or Pilates to strengthen your back and leg muscles. These techniques also help increase your flexibility.
  • Walking is a great, mild exercise to start. Slowly increase the distance and speed as your muscles get acclimated to the exertion.
  • If you’re a runner, try walking first, increasing your speed gradually before you start to jog. Keep your running sessions short in the beginning to minimize injuries.
  • If you’re used to lifting weights, consider using lighter weights at first. As you increase the weight, try fewer repetitions.
  • Consider swimming in a pool or doing some water aerobics. The buoyancy helps support your body weight, decreasing your chance of hurting your back.
  • Alternate your post-COVID exercises to work out different muscles of the body over the course of every week.

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