Categorized | Col & Flu

Precautions During Cold and Flu

Colds and flu alter your physiology, which can make you vulnerable to secondary problems. Understanding what is happening to your body during illness and recovery may help you take the proper action to avoid secondary problems and bring you to a speedier recovery. There are certain points in the course of the common cold that moderate exercise will help ease the discomfort of a cold. Care should be taken, however, not to infect others at health clubs, fitness centers and gyms.

Coughing and Sneezing
Coughing and sneezing increases intradisc pressure. People have been known to rupture intervertebral discs during a sneeze or cough. Take care to absorb shock away from the intervertebral discs by using proper pelvic tilting and kinetic linking of the entire body for force attenuation. For example, absorb the force of a sneeze or cough in your legs with bent knees … slightly collapsing under the force of the sneeze or cough. For most individuals, the pelvis should be in an anterior pelvic tilt (that’s butt out) with the spine neutral (in its normal lordotic curve) and the abdominal muscles lightly stabilized during the cough or sneeze. The force of the sneeze will actually cause you to flatten the curve in your back. Individuals with back conditions may need additional advice from their physician. You may also absorb the sneeze or cough’s force on the upper body by supporting your arms (with slightly bent elbows) on your own thighs or on a table or counter. Avoid twisting your spine during a cough or sneeze (as in to avoid coughing on someone). Turn your feet away first so that your whole body turns away from the person. The back is more vulnerable to injury in a twisted position.

Fever
Although its efficacy and mechanism are not well understood, fever with a cold or flu is a symptom that the body is attempting to kill invading organisms that are causing infection. Note that fever can be associated with many other illnesses, conditions or wounds.  Normally, the body safely regulates the temperature, even in fever state, but temperature that is too high can cause brain damage. External heat (hot weather or hot, stuffy rooms), especially combined with exercise, and dehydration (from vomiting or failure to replenish fluids) can cause hyperthermia, which can bring the body to a dangerous temperature level. Fever should generally be allowed to run its course, but the body should be watched carefully and treated carefully so that hyperthermia does not occur. Usually the length of chills is directly proportional to the elevation of the temperature.. Generally the higher the fever, the sicker a person feels. A person’s size, age and existence of other conditions and the duration of the fever and the actual temperature all factor in determination of  the seriousness of the fever. Don’t delay medical treatment, if you don’t know how to recognize a dangerous fever.

Exercise should be avoided during fever. Sometimes the onset of fever will occur during training or competition.  Fever takes away energy by generating heat instead of useful muscle force (e.g., shivering). Fever is associated with an increase in metabolic rate, so nutrition status needs to be monitored. The tension on the muscles probably causes some of the muscle and tendon aches and pains associated with flu, which negatively affect performance. The compromised musculoskeletal system could also be more susceptible to muscle or tendon strain.

Intense exercise during illness can require the same nutrients and energy that are needed for the functioning of the immune system. If the immune system and the musculoskeletal system are competing for energy and nutrients, it is likely that musculoskeletal performance will be diminished and the musculoskeletal system will be at greater risk of injury (muscle pulls, joint and tendon injuries are more likely) while the necessary immune system actions in the course of illness and healing may be delayed.

Breathing Difficulty
Blocked sinuses can be aggravated or extended with increase pressure during exercise. Respiration can also be restricted by blocked sinuses and narrowing of breathing passages, limiting optimal oxygen levels required during exertion. Exercisers should avoid head down or face down positions, such as push ups, bent over rows, decline bench presses, etc.

Failure to Rest
If the body is overstressed, secondary infections can invade and assault local areas of the body, such as heart valves,  heart muscle or joint tissue. Upper respiratory infections can lead to lower respiratory infections affecting the lungs (e.g., pneumonia).

It is best to rest and avoid exertion during illness.

Recovery
Keep in mind that rest during illness will be associated with a deconditioning effect on the body. The effect of fever may also have consequences where significant protein and glycogen may be lost from muscle tissue. Pay particular attention to the loss of quality of cardiovascular and strength conditioning with noticeable loss of endurance, coordination and strength. You may also notice a change in quality of blood pressure stabilization with some weakness, dizziness or light-headedness during the first few workouts. Warm-up carefully and proceed gradually and carefully.

See also ‘Fever‘ from Medline Plus Encyclopedia

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