Massage Therapy and Immunity
There is no question that having a regular massage is lovely. It’s good for your body and your mind and it’s something to really look forward to. But there is increasing evidence that suggests that it can actually have a significant and measurable impact on your immune system. With everything going on at the moment, making sure your body is fighting fit feels even more important than usual, so we wanted to explore how massage could be a critical part of staying fit and healthy.
1. Cortisol reduction
We know how much stress can affect your mental health over time, but have you ever wondered why it is when you are feeling low or anxious that you are most susceptible to physical ill health?
Stress, especially over time, is a major contributor to poor health and illness and this is because whilst your body is built to protect you, it’s not designed to be in this response mode for long periods of time. When your body senses a threat, your hypothalamus, a little spot at the back of your brain, sets off an alarm which pumps adrenaline and cortisol around your body. Whilst this is hugely helpful if you are being chased by a bear, and need to run for your life or have a brawl, this is not helpful if the thing that is panicking you is your workload – you can’t run away, so the response becomes your new normal. This is obviously tough for your heart and brain to sustain.
Cortisol is also so focused on your ability to run as fast as you can, that it shuts down or suppresses non-essential functions of your system. This includes the reproductive system, the digestive system and your natural immune system reactions.
Amongst other things, this can increase your chances of picking up a virus or a bug.
Having a regular massage has been proven in many studies to hugely reduce stress levels. One study, including 53 adults who were given a 45 minute Swedish massage once or twice a week for 5 weeks, experienced significant decreases in cortisol levels, and increases in oxytocin levels. But we didn’t need a study to tell us that!
2. Improved sleep
We often extol the virtues of massage for sleep, and how a regular treatment can help you get more, good quality sleep. There are all sorts of reasons that getting good sleep is important, but studies have shown that people who don’t get good quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, and take longer to recover if they do become unwell. You can read more about how important sleep is, and the role that massage can play in here.
3. Increased lymphocytes – the white blood cells that fight infection
A lymphocyte is one of the three subtypes of white blood cells in the immune system. Lymphocyte counts below the normal range can be temporary and can occur after a cold or another infection, or be caused by intense physical exercise, severe stress, or malnutrition. Keeping these cells at normal levels can help you to avoid and fight illness. There are lots of ways you can ensure that your white cells are plentiful and healthy, but according to one study from Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, participants receiving Swedish massages regularly, experienced significant positive changes in lymphocytes. Research is ongoing, but there is no doubt getting regular massages as part of a healthy lifestyle can boost your immunity, and help you stay fit and well.
So, visit our booking page to set up a regular massage appointment, and look after yourself and others.
Obviously, if you are not feeling well, you shouldn’t come to your appointment and you should let us know as soon as you can. To find out more about the measures we are taking at the Soma Room to make sure that your visit with us is healthy and enjoyable, read our coronavirus post here.