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Sports Medicine and COVID-19: What You Should Know

The restrictions that accompany the COVID-19 pandemic – and their impact on fitness – have been a concern for everyone from athletes to average people who lead active lives. If you play team sports, you’re probably sidelined. If you usually go to the gym, you may be lingering at home, working out your “popcorn” arm as you hit the snacks instead of the weights.

Even though you’re healthy, you wonder how many risks you should take. You know that an infection with the novel coronavirus can affect various body systems, including your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Some people who’ve developed COVID-19 report lingering issues long after their exposure to the virus. 

How do you stay active during the pandemic and get the sports medicine care you need while still remaining safe? The team at Active Rehab Clinics in Park Ridge, Illinois, and Chicago, Illinois has the answers. Here, our providers discuss what you need to know about exercise, injuries, and getting care during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To exercise or not to exercise

Exercise strengthens your immune system, keeps your heart strong, and reduces your risk of chronic disease. Those benefits don’t stop because there’s a pandemic. Staying active actually reduces the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, one of the potentially deadly complications of COVID-19.

Some experts contend that exercise is even more critical than ever, because obesity is one of the greatest risk factors for COVID-19 complications. When you’re fit and healthy, you reduce your chance of complications if you do get the virus. Whether you play sports or just want to remain active and fit, you can and should continue to exercise.

The best places to exercise 

As long as you maintain your distance from others, experts agree that exercising outside is relatively safe. The cold Illinois winter and spring air stresses your body, but in a good way. Short term stress, called “hormesis,” makes your body stronger and more resilient.

 Being outside also means that the potentially virus-containing droplets in each exhale from passersby are dispersed, lowering your risk for COVID-19. If you exercise in an outdoor space with other people, however, be sure to maintain your distance and wear a mask.

Gyms may be closed right now, but once they open, you should still be cautious. COVID-19 spreads via respiratory droplets, so being in an enclosed space with other people can put you at risk of infection. Practice social distancing. Sanitize any equipment both before and after use. Wash your hands frequently, or use hand sanitizer.

The safest place to work out may be your own home. You don’t need a lot of space or an expensive home gym. Weights, resistance bands, and a rebounder might be all you need to challenge your muscles, heart, and lungs in just the right way. 

How to handle an injury

Every time you participate in sports or some other form of exercise, you risk an injury. You can reduce your risk for injury when you embrace good fitness practices, such as:

Despite your best efforts, an injury could always occur when you least expect it. However, don’t let the risk of injuring yourself amid a global pandemic make you reluctant to continue your fitness routine. 

First, and most important, you can get care safely despite the pandemic. Our team employs the highest safety standards, so we can continue to provide our patients with top-quality care. You can expect precautions when you come to our office, but you can also expect that we’re ready to help. 

Call us as soon as you suffer an injury while exercising or playing a sport. Our team may be able to provide answers to your questions by phone. 

If you do have to pay an in-person visit, we limit the amount of time you spend in our waiting area. We’ve also implemented additional precautions to keep you safe, such as requiring a mask, taking your temperature, and quizzing you (and other patients) about symptoms.

Everyone in our office wears masks and other protective gear. We sanitize surfaces regularly.

Don’t avoid getting care because of COVID-19 fears. Your injury or condition could worsen unnecessarily as a result of waiting too long.

We’re here to serve you during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Call the office nearest you to schedule an appointment with one of our sports medicine specialists, or book a consultation online.

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