Hoping that this cold and flu season won’t find you sniffling, coughing, and feeling—well—just plain miserable? Before layering on the hand sanitizer, consider gearing up your mind (with more than just a cozy hat)! One of the best favors that you can do for yourself—and your immune system—this season is letting go of stress. If this task seems difficult, fear not: massage can help.
It may sound too good to be true. Can treating yourself to a massage really keep away the latest bug that’s going around the office? Yes! One of the most universal benefits of massage is increased bodily immunity. This immunity boost is actually a by-product of the stress relief that massage triggers. Sometimes, what’s good for us and what feels good is one in the same. Every time you get a massage is one of those times.
We shouldn’t underestimate the (negative) power of stress on the body. In her report “The Effects of Massage Therapy on Immune Function,” public speaker on the art and science of relaxation Judy Lovas says, “There is clear evidence that stress can compromise, alter and disrupt cellular signals of the central nervous system, endocrine, and immune systems.” When we’re stressed, our bodies aren’t functioning at their best!
It’s all about hormones. In times of stress, our bodies create cortisol like it’s going out of style. This stress hormone breaks down the immune system by destroying white blood cells known as natural killer (NK) cells. NK cells are like our bodies’ internal ambulance crews: they, in the words of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), “provide rapid response to viral-infected cells.” Because NK cells play a major role in defending the body from viruses, fewer NK cells mean less protection from—and more vulnerability to—disease. By stimulating relaxation and decreasing cortisol, massage allows NK cells to multiply with less inhibition and get back to their good work of keeping you healthy!
“How hard you get hit by a cold or flu completely depends on how strong your immune system is,” said massage therapist and medical textbook author Charlotte Michael Versagi. Strengthen your immune system this cold and flu season by adding massage to your immunity-boosting tool belt. To reap the greatest rewards from massage therapy, make it a fixture in your schedule!
The AMTA has found that “regular massages have been shown to make the immune system stronger” [emphasis mine]. Monthly or bi-weekly massage sessions can keep your stress levels low and your white blood cell levels high! Set up your massage schedule at Elements Massage Gilbert today—your tissue box will thank you!
Kusek Lewis, K. (2007, March 8). Massage: It's real medicine. Retrieved October 10, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/03/08/healthmag.massage
Lovas, J. (2015). The effects of massage therapy on immune function. Journal Of The Australian Traditional-Medicine Society, 21(4), 245.
Massage Therapy May Boost Immune System Functioning. (2016). Retrieved October 10, 2016, from https://www.amtamassage.org/research/Massage-Therapy-Research-Roundup/Research-Roundup0.html
Rosenbaum, L. (2012). Soft touch: boost your immune system with self-massage. Yoga Journal, (251), 30.