Massage is one of the most popular holistic/alternative therapies around. Why? Because it works! It’s been practiced for literally thousands of years and with a history like that it’s safe to say that massage has defiantly passed the test of time. There is no denying that massage feels good and can have a very positive effect on the outer layers of your body, specifically your muscles and skin. But did you know that massage isn’t just good for the outside? It’s also good for your insides too!Numerous studies have shown that even a single massage can have a positive effect on your immune system and more frequent massage treatments can help increase your body’s resistance to a wide variety of diseases and conditions from the common cold right the way up to cancer. In fact many medical experts believe massage can be useful in both the prevention and treatment of cancer. Good news indeed.So how does massage help your immune system? Good question!
Firstly, massage increases the flow of lymph around your body. Lymph is the fluid in which infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes are suspended and transported. By improving the flow of lymph around your body you ensure your infection fighting cells are mobile and ready to resist the advances of any unwanted cells looking to do you harm.
In addition to increasing the mobility of your lymph cells, massage also pushes old lymph cells through the lymph nodes, situated at the back of your knees, your groin, and the crook of your elbows, under your arm-pits and beneath your jaw. Old, tired lymphocytes are removed at the nodes and new, healthy cells take their place. This keeps your immune system functioning optimally.
Massage also decreases the production of the so-called catabolic hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin and increases production of the feel-good hormones including serotonin, dopamine and endorphin. These mood enhancing, pain-killing substances improve your mood, enhance your sleep and leave the vital systems of your body functioning effectively and efficiently and that includes your immune system.
Massage also helps control stress. Stress can be physical or emotional and regardless of the cause of your stress, too much can cause immune system impairment making you more prone to illness. Many of you reading this will have experienced stress-related immune system impairment. For example, have you ever felt totally inundated with work and then, to cap it all, get a cold as well? Chances are you were more susceptible to the cold virus simply because your body was more stressed than usual which lead to a sluggish immune system.
Winter is a time of both stress and illness; stress because of the festive season (too little sleep and a hectic social schedule count as stress!) and illness because of more closed windows, more exposure to centrally conditioned air and subsequently more circulating germs and viruses.
Don’t let this winter be like every other winter and leave yourself open to all the cold and flu bugs doing the rounds. Instead, get your immune system in training by getting a regular massage. That one hour a week treatment could save you days or even weeks of feeling unwell. It’s a small investment for potentially big paybacks. Who knew medicine could feel so good?!