From the front line of research review, medical literature monitoring, and critical analysis of method, I come bearing nothing conclusive concerning this mostly unknown "post-viral" or "post-acute" stage of COVID.
To those who have not been following this log, I had/have COVID19, date of symptomatic phase onset around March 25-28, test at April the 7th, worsening of symptoms from then until the beginning of May and beginning of this strange new phase also then.
COVID19 is a new disease and the symptoms manifested before acute respiratory distress are anything from a flu-like syndrome, a rash, digestive disorders, neurological symptoms to much weirder things. Every day, with the dramatic increase in the number of cases and deaths, we know a little more.
Early enthusiasm with this or that drug, particularly with chloroquine, was radically dismissed and shown to be potentially a deadly intervention.
In short, we ignore much more than we know. As a researcher and critical analyst, it is my job to sort out both ignorance and sound methodological new data.
For the weird, varied and unpredictable post-acute phase, everything and anything is inconclusive. Our patients' group is populated with researchers, front line health practitioners, and investigative journalists, all of which had/have COVID. We are listing symptoms and what appears to improve or aggravate them.
My main symptoms are lethargy, the "afternoon fever" (quite common) that comes with irresistible sleepiness, infrequent headache, weakness, and - and here is the bad part - joint pain. In my case, hip and lower limb nerve impingement pain. Not a little pain: major, blinding, infuriating pain.
From the literature, some facts may help guide the exercise or not-exercise approach. Two responses seem to be associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection: hyper-inflammatory response and auto-immune response.
It seems, but I'm not sure, that a longer session "outside" (at the home gym, where the iron plates and rack are), with powerlifts and heavier assistance work, is followed by a "bad" day: more fatigue, more pain, etc.
Things I have been doing:
1) a bodyweight/bands session as I wake up:
- 25 pushups
- 30 crunches
- 10/10 split squats
- adductor work (leg side raises) - 40/40 reps
- 20 band pull-aparts
- 20 band side raises
- 20 band curls
That seems to help put the person (me) in motion and counteract fatigue.
- one of the powerlifts + 2 assistance exercises every day => I am going to space this over the week, with 3 sessions/week
- ice bath - it's horrible, I did a 25-minute bath, it didn't seem to help then but today I think (but I'm not sure) the pain decreased. I'm not sure because the pain is there like always and I took a bunch of NSAIDs. Still, usually, not even that works
- empty bar Olympic-lift derived barbell complexes => this can be kept every day. Short 20 min sessions
- belly-dancing: hips hurt like hell but, surprisingly, there's less pain after a 30 min session.
I don't prescribe exercises for people in my COVID19 patients' group. This is not supposed to be an exercise prescription to anyone. However, if COVID patients read this, I hope they can see that it may seem like it's not going away, ever, but for most people it does (even if it takes a long time). I also hope they can see that exercises do help with respiratory issues. That is unquestionable and the results are amazing. People who never had pneumonia or asthma take breathing for granted.
There are no words to describe how good it is to breathe normally again, to have decent oxygen saturation, and for your heart not to feel like the drums from hell.