Myofascial Release is a non-invasive, gentle approach to treating the fascial system. Inflammation caused by COVID can negatively impact the fascial system in the acute and post-acute recovery phases. Inflammation creates restrictions and impairments in tissue mobility, resulting in pressure on pain sensitive structures. Some people recovering from COVID-19 are experiencing joint, muscle, myofascial restrictions, and pain. We are now understanding that COVID travels through the fascial system – impacting the system down to the cellular level. You can find out more about current research on this phenomenon here –
Sharkey J. Fascia Focused Manual Therapy Interventions-proposed treatment for Post-COVID Syndrome. Integrative Journal of Medical Sciences [Internet]. 2021Jan.6 [cited 2021Feb.7];8. Available from: https://mbmj.org/index.php/ijms/article/view/339
Related quote from the article: “Manual Therapists trained to specialise in the provision of fascia focused treatments are ideally placed to provide appropriate therapeutic interventions to help resolve resulting adhesive effects of respiratory and vascular secretions . Studies support the efficacy of fascia focused manual interventions which not only improve gliding of tissues but also restore normal levels of hyaluronan [32,33].”
In late Spring 2020 I contracted COVID and was significantly ill for 3 weeks. I was fortunate to avoid hospitalization, but my experience has taught me volumes about my own body and fascial system. There were days when the simple act of moving into a sitting position from lying down increased my heart rate from 72 to 127. One day I took 10 steps and felt that I might collapse from severe muscle weakness and fatigue. Shortness of breath, fever, muscle pain, crushing headaches, loss of taste and smell, cough and the persistent discomfort that I felt under my sternum (bone in the center of the front of our chests), were extremely humbling. I worried that I might never be the same. Many of my symptoms including fatigue, headaches, insomnia, muscle pain / weakness, hair loss, pounding and irregular heart rate, all persisted for several months. After 4 months I began to develop significant restrictions and pain in my left shoulder. When I attempted to return to my yoga practice, I noticed that when moving my upper body I could feel that the “inside” of me was not moving. It felt like my trachea (windpipe) down into my bronchial tubes (branches delivering air to the lungs) would not move. In fact, I could feel a “crunching” sensation when rotating my body while taking deep breaths. I had never experienced anything like this before. I began to develop an awareness that COVID had impacted my body more than I initially realized. I can now endorse that since pursuing Myofascial Release treatment, I have become aware of the significant connections between my ribcage, torso and neck and the pain I that I was experiencing in my shoulder. During MFR treatment, we discovered significant restrictions along my sternum and ribcage area that I could feel directly connected to the dysfunction in my shoulder.
Finding the emotional connection between my restricted fascia and my experience of being ill with COVID was not surprising, but it was enlightening. Our body’s fascial system is amazingly powerful, both mechanically as the scaffolding of our body, as well as an emotional “cloud-based storage device!” You may have heard the phrase, “the body keeps the score.” While we experience pain and trauma on a physical level, we also store up these experiences in our fascial system. Our fascial system is happy to be the gatekeeper of these store experiences, often binding them into restrictions in our normally dynamic, fluid filled, microtubular fascial highway. This helps protect our emotional stability during the time of stress or trauma. Releasing these restrictions during treatment is a physical phenomenon, but it can also be an emotional phenomenon. During MFR treatment on my sternum and ribcage, I became very tearful, my heart rate rose, and I began to become increasingly aware that what I was feeling was fear. It brought me back to the fear that I experienced while being sick. Acknowledging this fear and the emotions associated with being ill has been a valuable tool in my healing journey. John Barnes says, “without awareness there is no choice.” You are at the mercy of what your body is holding until you make the choice to let it go. I have always admired the courage that my clients employ on their healing journeys. I am grateful for the lesson in my own experience that will only serve to strengthen my ability to help others. Thank you for taking the time to read this.