Table of Contents:
Dr. Cheragwandi’s Story | Essentrics® TV Collection | Appendix | Glossary
How Essentrics® Helps Me Heal from Post-Covid Syndrome
By Dr. Avine Cheragwandi, MD
Have you ever been in a situation where something seemingly minor happens, but it completely turns your life upside down?
Well, that happened to me. I’m Avine, a G.I. surgeon, and just like so many others, I got COVID in 2021. The first two days, it felt like a mild flu but then BAM – it hit me. I got so sick that walking from my bed to the toilet felt like I just ran a marathon (mind you, it’s only 6 meters.) After two weeks, I schlepped myself back to work, ignoring all my symptoms because duty called. But these symptoms were getting worse by the day. Three weeks later, I crashed and burned.
I ticked all the boxes of Post-Covid Syndrome. I was progressively tired, extremely short of breath, coughing non-stop and only sleeping about 1 hour per night… not to mention the brain fog, clumsiness, and walking difficulties due to significant loss of muscle mass and proprioception (the sense of body positioning in space.) I felt pain and extreme tightness in my whole body. The worst part was that whenever I made any kind of effort, my symptoms became worse – this is known as Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM).
As a doctor, I of course knew about these symptoms – but experiencing it is something else. I was terrified and wanted to get better ASAP. Fortunately, I was able to start medical rehab quickly. We focused on regaining muscle mass with weights (physical therapy), breathing exercises (respiratory therapy) and occupational therapy. But after a few months, I realized I wasn’t getting better, and I had to try something else.
Before I got sick, I did Essentrics® from time to time. It would always help me relax and get energized. So, I decided I would give it a try. I started gently incorporating restorative Essentrics® movements like Open Chest Swan, Shoulder Blast, Ceiling Reaches, hip and back stretches and hand/foot exercises. It was by no means easy, but it was rewarding. My breathing got better because my chest and ribs opened up, and my spine and abdomen became less rigid. My feet and ankles got stronger, my proprioception* improved, and my quads and hamstrings were loosening up. I started feeling better and my therapists noticed my progress as well, so I continued to do both. Although I’m not there yet, I really feel that I am improving.
I really think Essentrics® can help anyone suffering or recovering from a chronic disease or surgery on their journey back to health.
That’s why I felt the need to write this blog. We need to optimize rehabilitation strategies for the early and post-acute phases of COVID-19, so the healing process won’t be inhibited or delayed. And I strongly believe Essentrics® can play a major role: gently improving flexibility and mobility, reducing pain and stress, and promoting healing. It is low-impact, and can even be done seated, so everyone can do it… plus, it’s relaxing and fun, too!
There are many different Essentrics® exercises that you can do in various stages of your healing process. My main advice (even if you are in the early stages of the disease) is to start very gently with short workouts (maximum of 5 minutes), focusing on movement in hands and feet and some easy full-body exercises. Done at a very easy pace, this will help prevent blood clots, major loss of muscle mass and tightness of your body. It will also help to heal any “damage” from the viral infection, helping you regain strength and well-being in the later stages of recovery.
This might be a bold statement, but I really think Essentrics® can help anyone suffering or recovering from a chronic disease or surgery on their journey back to health. So, if you haven’t started with Essentrics® yet, take my story as a sign and start your healing process now!
We have put together a collection of Essentrics® workouts which you can follow to support healing at every stage of your rehabilitation process.
SYMPTOMS OF POST-COVID SYNDROME
Some people who get infected by the COVID-19 virus develop Post-COVID Syndrome (also known as “Long COVID”). They develop new or continue to have symptoms more than 4 weeks after the infection. We still don’t know the exact mechanisms that cause these debilitating symptoms, but we do know it is multifactorial, and ongoing systemic inflammation, immune function dysregulation, prolonged bed rest, reduced mobility, and malnutrition play a big role.
The most common (persistent) symptoms include:
shortness of breath
joint or muscle pain
joint stiffness (arthralgia)
pins and needles feelings
loss of smell and taste and other digestive symptoms
changes in menstrual cycles
Post-Exertional Malaise: The worsening of symptoms after physical or mental effort. It can interfere with the patient’s daily life and quality of life in general.
Proprioception: the sense of body positioning in space. This means the body has the ability to sense movement, action, and location of parts of the body because sensory receptors in skin, muscles, joints, and tendons send messages about the position and action of that body part to the brain. The brain then sends the processed messages to the rest of the nervous system/body to create a sense of balance. This is a continuous loop of feedback.
Basically, proprioception allows us to do things without consciously thinking about it. For instance, you can walk without falling or bumping into things while you’re not looking at your feet. But if you are intoxicated, you will have a temporary impairment of proprioception, meaning you will not be able to walk without falling or bumping into things. Unfortunately, injuries or diseases that affect the nervous system or age-related changes can cause long-term or permanent proprioception impairment.