You probably know that massage therapy can help to relax your muscles, improve your sleep, and even reduce your stress levels, but did you know that it can also help to boost your immune system? It’s true! In fact, stress and the effect it has on your immune system is a big reason why massage therapy can be so beneficial for helping you fight off colds and the flu. But that’s not the only way massage helps boost your immunity; massage will certainly help lower stress-causing hormones like cortisol and increase ‘feel good’ hormones like serotonin, but it does even more than that.
Have you ever wondered why some people get sick more often than others? And then there are those people out there who never get sick! What’s going on with them? Well, it could be that they handle stress better than others, and that may be because genetically their bodies naturally produce more ‘good’ immune system fighters, and have a better ability to decrease the ‘bad’ guys who can cause all that pain and discomfort. Alas, we’re not all built that way: some of us need a little extra help.
Clinical studies have shown that massage therapy on a regular basis can actually affect your levels of naturally occurring antibodies, increasing their levels to help fight off bacteria and viruses (that’s right, get a massage and you can skip your blueberry-banana-wheat-grass-protein-smoothie for once!). Not only that, but regular massage will help reduce your body’s production of cytokines, which encourage inflammation and pain throughout your body.
Furthermore, massage therapy helps to improve your blood’s circulation and lymph drainage, two systems that help to flush out those nasty little invaders that can hamper your immunity. Note, however, that it’s not good to get a massage once the bad guys have gained control and you’re feeling sick! Once their numbers are high enough, increased circulation can help them get around your body faster and wreak more havoc. If you’ve already come down with something, wait at least 3 to 5 days until your symptoms have dissipated before resuming your massage therapy sessions.
If you work really hard you deserve to relax. Even better, taking the time to get regular massage therapy from a registered massage therapist can help keep you from having to take sick days off and miss all that hard work you love to do! It’s hard to lead a stressful life when a weakened immune system gets in the way. So get proactive and get a massage today!
By Richard Lobbenberg, BSc BHSc DAc