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Therapeutic Massage Vs. Long Covid

What is "Long Covid"?

How long it takes to recover from COVID-19 is different for everybody. Many people feel better in a few days or weeks and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer.

Some research has indicated an estimated 10% of recovered COVID-19 infections produce longer-term symptoms, while other research eludes to a number closer to 30%.

A study for the University of Washington, states that close to one-third of COVID-19 survivors report “worse health and quality of life” than before their COVID-19 diagnosis, while 8% report they are no longer able to do such normal tasks as “lift heavy objects, or stand or walk unassisted for more than a short period of time.”

Signs and Symptoms of Long Covid?

Common long COVID symptoms include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)

  • shortness of breath

  • chest pain or tightness

  • problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog")

  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)

  • heart palpitations

  • dizziness

  • pins and needles

  • joint pain

  • depression and anxiety

  • tinnitus, earaches

  • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite

  • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste

  • rashes

While massage therapy cannot always help alleviate such symptoms, there are several that can be helped with massage.

Massage Vs Long Covid.

The obvious symptoms massage can help with are joint-and-muscle pain and headaches. Clients presenting with these conditions are very likely to find relief with massage therapy. Breathing difficulties, coughing, digestive issues, dizziness and brain fog may also be helped. In my opinion, often these issues involve a protective stress response to the situation. Massage therapy can help re-teach the client’s nervous system so it can release the protection

With covid being a respiratory disease, the long effects on the lungs can cause the muscles involved in breathing to become overworked. As the lung tissues are damaged, or stuctures blocked, the efficient gaseous exchange that normally occurs in the lung become inefficient. This makes it harder and harder to process oxygen from the air you breathe. As difficulty increases and the diaphragm fatigues, you compensate by recruiting ancillary breathing muscles to inhale and exhale. These can include intercostals, scalenes, SCM, pectorals, trapezoids, abdominals and serratus sets.

Your Body is Clever, Its Find a Way

Our bodies are intelligent and adapt to allow us to survive. In this case, your body can learns to breathe using these ancillary muscles, to form a new normal. Without intervention to teach the brain that normal, relaxed diaphragmatic breathing is OK, it may never return to fully relaxed breathing.

One technique that can be employed is light compression of the abdomen with the palms of the hands after working directly on the diaphragm. Lightly taking away the ability to use the abdominals for respiration makes the brain have to figure out another way to inhale and exhale. It should choose the diaphragm as the obvious muscle to recruit. This helps the brain relearn that diaphragmatic breathing is safe again.

Covid is Stressful

Where you had covid and got over it smooth and quickly or you had a mini battle, the psychological/ physiological strain remains. Massage can assist clients to restore balance between their sympathetic and parasympathetic systems (the fight and flight response).

Basic techniques that release muscle tension, promote circulation and soothe the nervous system all signal safety and give the body space to induce its parasympathetic responses.

Advanced techniques such as direct psoas and diaphragm releases, ancillary breathing muscle releases, and breath-work can have even more profound results.

Massage to Soothe the Head

Headaches can come from a wide variety of sources. with COVID-19, headaches might be simply due to muscle tension and chronic stress. However, COVID-19 has known neurological effects.

With these tension headaches, the source can come from a functional pattern of muscle tension. These broadly include jaw muscles, neck muscles and shoulder muscles. Since the source is muscular, massage can be very helpful in not only relieving symptoms but also in relieving the root causes and providing a long-term solution.

For all headache sufferers, basic muscular sources to treat include the external jaw muscles, scalenes, SCM, traps, levator scapula, suboccipital and frontalis muscles. Any of these can either directly be causing achy pain or be referring pain to the head from trigger points or compressed nerves. In targeting these area, relief can be found.

To conclude, massage therapy is not a cure for all symptoms and side effects of Covid-19. However massage therapy does have a place in practice for those struggles with certain covid induced symptoms.

If you feel you can gain a benefit from massage therapy to relieve covid induced effects, contact us today or book your slot below (West London + Suburbs) .

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