Fitness, Home

Physical fitness in a pandemic

I’m 161 days into my work-from-home / quarantine as the new daily standard and I’ve finally gotten into a routine. I wake up by 6am and meditate/journal, read a book, and have breakfast. I try to sit down at my computer for work by 9am and then I don’t move until lunchtime. After that, I don’t move again until 5pm but at this point, I have Netflix playing in the background. Then, dinner, family tv time, shower and bed – usually, after midnight.

At-home workouts have been my greatest asset during this time. For a short time, I was going for runs and walks outdoors, but then when the numbers spiked and the mask rule was put in place, I decided to stay inside. It’s hard enough wearing that mask to talk to people. I can’t imagine wearing it while sweating and trying to breathe as I run. So, I have been inside, on the treadmill, running or walking 2-3 times every single week, on top of my twice weekly boxing class. Even with the right shoes and going at my own pace, I still managed to injure myself. I’m dreading the thought of having to go to a doctor’s office right now, so I did some symptom googling (I know…I really shouldn’t), and it led me to what could potentially be my problem — Patellofemoral pain (PFP) — Runner’s Knee — because according to this article from Healthline, it can be associated with knee joint overuse, and both boxing and running use these joints a lot. I feel the pains in my kneecap area whenever I sit for long periods of time, when I lay down to sleep, and when I tried doing squats earlier this week. Based on what I read in the article, it also sounds like my work from home situation has only added to these now exasperated symptoms and pains. My job is 9-5, in front of the computer, at a desk, which wasn’t a problem when I was commuting into the city, had an office sized desk and office quality chairs. My set-up at home is not conducive to long-term WFH situations. Now, my body isn’t sitting properly and the desk is too low to stand while working so my legs are protesting the 8-hours of sitting everyday.

Of course, I am not tied down to the desk and am unable to move, but when I’m working at home I am less inclined to get up and move around, which is key to keeping my joints from stiffening during the day. Every hour, I will get up and move around to try and help my legs. I am considering coordinating my need to move with my hourly water consumption again, like I was at my office. Sometimes I wonder if my knees are worse off because they have been slightly crooked since I was a kid. Supposedly it would have taken the doctors breaking and re-setting the bones in my legs and my mom was like if it’s not life-threatening, then I think we can skip it. I was pretty annoying kid, so I am sure she made the right call at the time, ha! And, truly, it doesn’t really have an affect on my life but I am getting older, I’m working out more, and I am still losing weight. All of this puts extra strain on my aging joints. Sometimes, I wonder, though… “What if we had fixed my legs back then?”

So, what did I do to help this problem? I took the advice of the internet and stopped working out for about six weeks (which happened to fall at a time when my boxing coach was going out of town and wouldn’t be hosting classes) and gave my knee time to heal. At about week 4 1/2, I started doing some gentle yoga and strength routines that would stretch parts of my body. It especially helped with the pains in my legs so I continued doing this every night. Week 6, and I was getting restless so I started SUPER SLOW, gentle walks on the treadmill, with my knee braces on both knees. A friend of mine recommended these to me – Patella Tendon Knee Strap . I got a pair of them on Amazon for $12. They are great for most intense sports like running, hiking, basketball, etc. I wear them when I walk, run, and box and they give me the extra support that’s missing in my knees. I’ve also made an effort to ice my knees after every single workout. I do more recovery activities than I previously had been doing. Aside from recovery activities, I have been listening to my body more and more. That’s something that I would forget to do, but now I am all ears.

Now, I am back to boxing twice a week with my instructor – individually and in our group – and training for the SHA 5K in September. My goal is to run the entire thing in 45 minutes to 1 hour. I am on week four of my Garmin Coach training plan. 7 weeks left and I am so psyched for this race!

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