One "Long Covid"-Patient sits on a chair and looks at a monitor

    A “Long Covid” patient during medical training therapy (picture alliance / dpa / Jörg Carstensen)

    “The need is there, maybe not the rush, but the need is very strong,” suspects Tatjana Kaiser, who heads a rehabilitation sports group for lung sports and long Covid in Bad Oeynhausen.

    “But I guess a lot of people just don’t even know they have Long Covid. They are not informed. They don’t know that it’s normal that you’re tired, that you have speech disorders, that you’re not concentrating, that you have trouble sleeping, that you’re less stressed overall and, and, and. A lot of people associate this with other things, but not necessarily Long Covid.”

    The lung sports group from the “Manere Sanus” association was created at the request of those affected by long Covid with breathing problems. But that shouldn’t be the only complaint about getting into rehabilitation after a corona infection, says Heike Grigoleit-Bahr. In Krefeld, she heads the “Fit for Life” association:

    “In any case, it should really be the way to rehab first, because you don’t just have to control your breathing, you also have to see how the heart reacts after an illness like this. It would be fatal if you suddenly went back to the gym or started jogging. Maybe you should really first see how I’m really doing, and do that over a few weeks.”

    Respond individually to complaints

    Long and Post Covid bring many different symptoms, physical, cognitive or psychological. They only appear after the actual corona disease. Research is still looking for therapy solutions for these secondary symptoms of the corona infection. Vera Jaron, Vice President of the German Disabled Sports Association DBS, already sees how important rehabilitation sport is in the long Covid issue. At the DBS forum “Corona and Sport” in September in Berlin, she emphasized:

    “We, the Disabled Sports Association, who, if not us, is required to get involved with these people. And then really bring in experts from science and ask: Help us, give us knowledge, what can we do? How can we build our sports offerings? And what I think came out in the extreme today is how individually you have to deal with each individual affected.”

    The local clubs are also noticing that Long Covid is a new challenge precisely because of this individuality, says Grigoleit-Bahr from Krefeld:

    “At the moment we only have one long-Covid patient who you can say can be accommodated well in orthopedics. What fears do people have, what are they not feeling right now, where can you support them? And then we divide them exactly into the area where they need it. And we are very individually positioned there.”

    Precisely because rehabilitation sports clubs offer many different indication groups, they are predestined to support Long Covid patients, believes Benedikt Ewald, Director of Sports Development at DBS:

    “You can’t lump long and post-Covid together, you have to look at what is actually the dominant, superficial accompanying symptom. Is it in the area of ​​lung function? Is it more likely to be prescribed in the area of ​​mental stress? Is it possibly in the orthopedic field? Where is the specific restriction, because Long and Post Covid is a collective term for now.”

    Be careful with your own energy reserves

    However, those affected by Long Covid can also develop a stress intolerance: If you exceed your limits and are not careful with your energy reserves, this leads to a worsening of the symptoms. In Krefeld there is therefore a new course for those affected by Long Covid:

    “So we launched an offer called mindfulness training because we thought that we could simply be there a lot more with breathing, with meditation, with support,” describes Heike Grigoleit-Bahr and her colleague Britta Lohr added:

    “Experience actually shows that they are all reduced in terms of performance. They kind of start all over again, they’re exhausted. Every Covid patient should take that seriously and then give their body a break.”

    Not only physical exertion can be too exhausting

    An important method to avoid worsening your state of health through overexertion is pacing: individual activity management with breaks and taking your own energy resources into account. The method stems from ME/CFS research, a post-infectious disease whose main symptom is exercise intolerance. It is difficult to slow yourself down when you want to get back to everyday life after recovering from an illness. The psychological psychotherapist Bettina Grande deals with post-infectious diseases such as Long Covid and ME/CFS and the accompanying stress intolerance. Pacing isn’t just about physical activity, she says:

    “You’re young, everyone goes to the bathing lake and I have a small idea that the heat, the many conversations, the exciting information you get from your peers, that it can also contribute to a worsening of symptoms because it’s just too much is. That everyone has to find that out for themselves and endure, the feeling of saying no, frustration tolerance, doing without, in a phase of life where you actually want, do, build up.”

    According to Grande, it is not easy to rethink in a meritocracy and to slow down yourself or to be slowed down. So the offers in rehabilitation sports are there, but there are new tasks for the trainers: not only to respond very individually to the complaints of those affected by long and post Covid, but also to pay attention to stress limits in a sensitized manner. Because taking yourself back and taking care of yourself is also supported from the outside, by “being slowed down”.