How Massage Can Strengthen the Immune System

Cold and flu season is here, folks. The kids are back at school, the weather is turning cooler and your body may be recovering from a very busy and smoky summer here in Golden. If your household is anything like mine at the moment, and there are snotty, coughing toddlers spreading germs everywhere, you may be wondering how you can boost your immune system this cold and flu season.  Of course, increased hand washing is number one. Even if you don’t come in contact with sick people as regularly as I do, you will expose yourself to germs anywhere from the bank machine to the grocery store.  While massage therapy is best known for its ability to relax the nervous system and decrease pain and tension in the body, it also may be the most enjoyable way to stay healthy this cold and flu season.

Various studies have shown that massage may boost your immune function, here’s how:

  • Massage increases the number of white blood cells (lymphocytes) which are known to fight off disease and viruses (including the common cold).
  • Massage promotes lymphatic circulation. Your lymphatic system is responsible for eliminating pathogens and spreading white blood cells.
  • Massage is known to decrease the levels of stress hormones (cortisol). Cortisol is recognized to suppress the immune system.
  • There is an increase in dopamine following a massage. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that influences the immune system.
  • Massage therapy  can also benefit those with compromised immune systems. (Talk to your medical doctor if you are unsure if massage therapy is appropriate for you.)

The effects of massage therapy on the immune system are significant and range from regulating hormones to promoting a better sleep. Remember, when you are sick your body needs to rest. If you are too sick to go to work you are probably too sick to come for your massage. Please be considerate of your therapist and other patients and cancel your massage if you are in the contagious stage of getting sick.

Written by Tessa Keefer, massage and bodyworker