Adapting to Mechanical Stress during COVID-19

Understanding when and why injuries occur is very important in prevention.

Every day we apply stress to our bodies through activities of daily living, work, exercise, etc. As we apply stress to the body, the body will adapt as long as the stress applied is not greater than the capacity to adapt. We have a threshold of the minimum amount of stress required to create adaptations. This threshold varies from person to person based upon activity level however is equally important as this threshold increases the body’s capacity to sustain mechanical stress.

Going over the maximum capacity to adapt will result in pain during activity, pain following the activity, or morning stiffness. Take for example if you decide to sign up for a Dri-Tri without training and give it your max effort. Yes, I (a physical therapy who knows better) did that and I paid for it. If you saw our Instagram stories of the Dri-Tri, you may have caught me saying “my quads are on fire!”. Those quadriceps muscles were pushed beyond their max capacity and repaid me by being stiff and sore for a week.

Under-stimulation can also be troublesome as no adaptation will occur. Muscles will weaken and shorten. Joints will become stiff.

So why is this especially important right now? Up until last week, you were working outside of your home, you would go to the gym, attend social gatherings, etc. You were working at the higher end of your mechanical stress curve and were continuing to apply more stress to the body to create adaptions.

Now what?

There has been a change in your activity level and you are working at the lower end of your mechanical stress. You are working at home, taking fewer steps throughout the day, sitting more, and no longer going to the gym.

My advice is to move.

If you are feeling stiff and tight from sitting check out our dynamic stretching or static stretching tutorial blogs or try one of our online yoga classes. The gym is closed so why not try one of our fitness classes online to maintain your strength gains. Try going outside for a walk or run. The goal is to apply similar mechanical stresses to the body so when we are all able to return to our normal routines, you do not find yourself with an overuse injury.

I highly recommend watching this video from The Running Clinic >> It explains Mechanical Stress using simple diagrams and illustrations.

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