The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Long Haul COVID Symptoms - Massage Today Magazine
What Are Some of the Most Common Symptoms of Long-haul COVID?
A recent study on post-COVID syndrome that evaluated patients with symptoms that persisted for at least four weeks after initial diagnosis found the main symptoms and signs of post-COVID syndrome reported by the 29 participants were fatigue (86%) and muscle pain (62%). More than half of the subjects reported having at least three symptoms, with severe functional disability and moderate to severe limitation seen in 48% and 75% of the patients respectively.
Kristen Gutierrez, who first contracted COVID-19 in September 2020, says fatigue, brain fog, headaches, shortness of breath, and muscle pain are all a part of what she deals with as a long-haul COVID sufferer. All of this is after a two-month struggle with her initial symptoms that included fever, body aches, chest pain, and insomnia.
Her first clue that something might be wrong was noticing that some of her symptoms continued to linger after she returned to work. “I noticed I just couldn’t keep up with what was once my normal pace. I was still struggling with simple tasks like walking or focusing on my assignments,” Gutierrez says. “Brain fog was a major concern. I reached out to my primary care physician after a week or so to see if this was normal or if there was anything that could help me heal faster.”
Mark Haegele Jr. also found that his COVID symptoms seemed to stretch into long-haul territory after his initial bout with COVID that included a mild fever, cough, and headaches. “I lost my sense of taste for two weeks,” he adds.
Can Massage Therapy Help Long-haul COVID Sufferers?
Both Gutierrez and Haegele turned to massage therapy to help manage their long-haul symptoms. Haegele was looking for relief from his neck and shoulder pain and Gutierrez was hoping to find some relief from muscle aches in her back, neck, and legs, as well as the bad headaches she was experiencing.
After discussing their issues with their massage therapists and developing a session plan, both Gutierrez and Haegele found relief from their symptoms quickly.
“The first session helped. It provided immediate relief of the headache I was experiencing, and my body felt much better than it did before the massage,” says Gutierrez. “Honestly, that night was the first time I slept for more than five hours in a row in a span of six months.”
“After the third session I felt much better,” Haegele says. “I was able to focus better at work as my neck pain and shoulder pain were eliminated. I also felt like my sinuses were improved.” Haegele continues to see his massage therapist monthly and is hoping to incorporate more massage focused on stress relief and aromatherapy. “I am still concerned about the full recovery of smell and taste,” he says. “I think there could be a more defined approach to aromatherapy included in the massage sessions.”
Gutierrez, too, continues to see her massage therapist at least two times a month, sometimes three depending on her schedule, down from weekly when she first started. “Prior to this diagnosis, I never really considered self-care a priority. This journey has taught me a lot, and the number one lesson is to listen to your body and put yourself first,” she says. “There are so many benefits to massage therapy. Aside from helping to relieve my symptoms, it also helps me reduce stress, enhance relaxation, and gives me the time to stop and just be in the moment.”
Tejerina F, Catalan P, Rodriguez-Grande C, Adan J, Rodriguez-Gonzalez R, Munoz P, Aldamiz T, Diez C, Perez L, Fanciulli C, Garcia de Viedma D. “Post-COVID-19 syndrome. SARS_CoV-2 RNA detection in plasma, stool, and urine in patients with persistent symptoms after COVID-19.” BMC Infect Dis. 2022 Mar 3;22(1):211.