All Things Health Team
Written by All Things Health Team

Reviewed by Dr Eki Wari

Post-COVID Muscle Fatigue: How to Revive Your Body

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, we are seeing more and more side effects, and one of such is muscle fatigue. In this article, you will learn what causes it, along with methods to relieve muscle fatigue and improve muscle strength.

A man touches his shoulder in pain due to muscle fatigue

The COVID-19 pandemic is now in its third year, and in addition to the immediate effects caused by the virus, we are now seeing debilitating long-term effects, such as muscle fatigue and aches that persist long after the initial infection has gone away.

Causes of Persistent Muscle Fatigue After COVID-19  

A woman touches her waist in pain while sitting on a sofa
Cold, dampness, and qi deficiency in the body are the possible causes of muscle aches and chronic fatigue.

There are many different theories about the causes of muscle fatigue and discomfort following COVID-19. It may be that for people with severe or prolonged infections, being in bed for days or weeks causes muscles to shrink and lose their strength. It is also suspected that the virus itself can cause damage to the muscles, causing them to break down.

According to Senior Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Brandon Yew, from the TCM perspective there are two more ways COVID-19 can cause muscle fatigue. First, the virus can cause weak functioning of the spleen.

“TCM believes the spleen governs the muscles, i.e., a strong, healthy spleen gives rise to strong, healthy muscles,” says physician Yew. Second, the infection will inflict a combination of Wind, cold, heat, and dampness pathogenic factors upon the meridians, disrupting the circulation of the qi and blood, leading to muscle fatigue.  

TCM Remedies and Practices For Post-COVID-19 Muscle Fatigue 

Physician Yew recommends some TCM remedies that could help improve the symptoms of COVID-19 muscle fatigue. They include:  

  • Ginseng: Its qi-boosting properties help restore and enhance overall bodily functions. 
  • Radix Codonopsis: Its qi-enhancing properties are beneficial for people with weak body constitutions, especially young adults.  
  • Chinese dates: This regenerates blood to help with muscle healing.
  • Astragalus root: It promotes muscle regeneration through regenerating spleen qi, however, it has to be used with caution in pregnant women. 
  • Chinese yam: It aids in relieving symptoms associated with weak or sore joints through replenishing qi and yin energy.
  • Chinese Angelica: This replenishes blood and promotes circulation to strengthen muscles. However, it is best avoided in pregnant women

A bowl of chicken essence may also help regain your stamina, overcome post-COVID muscle fatigue, and strengthen immunity. The essence of free-range chicken without added preservatives and artificial coloring is safe for adults and children.

Other effective herbs and remedies include Shi Quan Da Bu Tang, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, Cordyceps, Lingzhi, dried longan pulp, malaytea scurfpea fruit, Chinese magnoliavine fruit, and walnut

Precaution: Avoid self-medicating without consulting with a registered TCM physician first.

Using Acupuncture And Acupressure To Ease Muscle Fatigue

Another TCM treatment that is useful for relieving post-COVID muscle fatigue is acupuncture. During the procedure, needles as fine as human hair are inserted into specific points on the body.

You can also receive acupressure treatment or do self-acupressure by massaging the points shown in the illustration above. According to physician Yew, the pressure points to be targeted for improving post-COVID neck and shoulder muscle fatigue are: 

  1. Fengchi GB20: In the depression created between the origins of the Sternocleidomastoid and Trapezius muscles, at the junction of the occipital and nuchal regions.
  2. Jianjing GB21: On the shoulder, directly above the nipple, at the midpoint of the line connecting the acromion, and the depression below the spinous process of the 7th cervical vertebra.

Acupoints for upper limbs muscle fatigue:

  1. Binao LI14: On the lateral side of the arm, superior to the insertion of deltoideus muscle.
  2. Shousanli LI10: With the elbow flexed, the point is on the dorsal radial side of the forearm, 3-fingers breadth below the transverse cubital crease.

Acupoints for lower back and lower limbs muscle fatigue:

  1. Yaoyan EX-B7: On the lower back, in the depression 4-fingers-breadth lateral to the lower border of the spinous process of the 4th lumbar vertebra.
  2. Liangqiu: When the knee is flexed, on the anterior aspect of the thigh, on the line connecting the anterior superior iliac spine and the lower lateral border of the patella, 3-fingers-breadth above the patella
  3. Xuehai SP10: When the knee is flexed, on the medial aspect of the thigh, the point is 3-fingers-breadth above the mediosuperior border of the patella, on the bulge of the medial portion of quadriceps femoris muscle.
  4. Zusanli ST36: On the anterior aspect of the lower leg, 4 fingers-breadth below the outer depression of the knee joint, one finger-breadth (middle finger) from the anterior crest of the tibia.
  5. Yinlingquan SP9: On the medial aspect of the lower leg, in the depression of the lower border of the medial condyle of the tibia.
  6. Yinmen BL37: Along the midline on the posterior aspect of the thigh, midpoint between the transverse gluteal fold and transverse crease of the popliteal fossa.
  7. Chengshan BL57: On the posterior midline of the lower leg, the depression below of gastrocnemius muscle when extending the toes straight or lifting the heel. 

If symptoms seem to be not improving or even getting worse while using these remedies, please promptly see your doctor for treatment. 

Medical Treatments for Post-COVID Muscle Fatigue 

In addition to the TCM remedies, there are some conventional medical treatments. These include: 

Physical therapy 

A female physical therapist is helping a woman doing exercise with a yoga ball
A physical therapist can plan a routine to help regain your muscle strength.

This will help rebuild muscle strength, flexibility, and tone. You can work with a physical therapist or on your own, but it is essential to work every day and not over-exert yourself. 

Respiratory therapy 

The muscles that support the lungs and help with breathing may also be weakened due to COVID-19. If that happens to you, it is important to do strengthening exercises to help improve breathing functions. It is best to work with a respiratory therapist to do this.

COVID-19 muscle fatigue and aches can be very disruptive and worrisome. These are just a few methods that you can use to help relieve the symptoms. Don’t hesitate to visit a healthcare professional if your symptoms limit your daily activities.

Share this article with anyone you know who may be experiencing these issues.

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