Is the risk of injury higher after COVID-19?

18. January 2022

Start training slowly again if you’ve had COVID-19.

In a study conducted between July and September 2020, researchers asked almost 2000 runners whether they had contracted COVID and whether they had been so badly injured since March 2020 that they could not run for at least a week. To the astonishment of the researchers, there was a significant difference between all the respondents who were at least 18 years old and had participated in at least one run in 2019: The group that had COVID was 1.66 times more likely to get injured than the healthy group! However, there was no significant difference in the type of injury, suggesting that the decrease in general aerobic, muscular, and skeletal strength was a key factor.

An illness-related break harbours risks

Why were the runners who had COVID more likely to injure themselves? The researchers suspect there is a crucial difference between someone deliberately taking a break after a long season, for example, and someone affected by a disease. Diseases can lead to a greater impairment of strength and fitness. And COVID-19 can also have stronger systemic effects than a typical cold. If you resume training after recovering from the disease, it is necessary to take this into account and train more slowly and for shorter periods while building up strength at the same time. You should not try to make up lost ground but redefine your goals, if necessary. Otherwise, you risk having to take another break due to an injury to the musculoskeletal system.