Massage is one of the oldest forms of therapy and has been shown to reduce aches, pains and tension as well as improve sleep, flexibility, energy levels and circulation, but did you know the benefits it can have on your immunity?
This blog will outline how massage can also help you to ward off stress and illness by boosting your immune system.
Massage And The Immune System: What the Research Tells Us
Although a number of small studies have proven the health benefits of massage, a 2010 study by researchers in Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles was the largest study of its kind to discover whether massage affects the body’s immune response. The researchers found that massage creates measurable changes in the body’s immune system.
After only a single massage, participants experienced a significant increase in white blood cells. These cells play a large role in defending the body from disease. Not only that, but the massage also caused a decrease in cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. When the body and mind are stressed, our immune defences are lowered, making us more susceptible to infections.
A follow-up study in 2012 went a step further, showing that there were cumulative health benefits to repeated massage.
Another study from the University of Roehampton in Britain, in conjunction with the BBC, found that the participants’ lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, increased by up to 70% after a massage.
Lymphocytes perform many growth and repair functions in the body which could go some way to explaining the science behind the amazing health benefits of massage and explain why massage can help with so many conditions.
Benefits of Massage for Your Health & Immune System
Massage not only feels good, but also works wonders for your physical well being. Let’s look at some of the benefits of massage:
Our body experiences pain for a number of reasons, such as injury or muscle deterioration or overuse. When your brain detects pain (through a signal from receptors in your skin), it relays this information to your nerves. It is your nerves that make you ‘feel’ the pain. Similarly, when you get a soothing massage, the receptors in your skin identify this new sensation. This interrupts the signals they send to your brain, so the brain in turn sends fewer signals to your nerves. The end result is new signals encouraging the feeling of relaxation, and thus reducing the feeling of pain.
According to the Australian Psychological Society Stress and Wellbeing in Australia survey 2015, more than a quarter of Australians report above normal levels of anxiety symptoms. And in the year that this survey was conducted, anxiety levels were at an all-time high. While stress and its management are a complex topic, health professionals recommend massage as one of the ways to reduce both physical and mental stress.
Physically, massage helps relieve stress by relaxing muscles and mentally, by reducing the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in our body. Here’s how massage helps ease physical stress: The kneading and rubbing action of a massage helps increase muscle temperature, which helps tissues become more elastic. This causes a feeling of relaxation and helps alleviate the physical symptoms of stress. Likewise, at the mental level, this causes the release of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, which are all ‘feel-good’ hormones. They counter the effects of cortisol to create a happy and calm state of mind.
Increased white blood cell activity
A number of scientific studies have shown that a regular massage helps improve white blood cell activity in the body. For the uninitiated, white blood cells are our ‘immunity cells’ – they course through the body fighting off a host of bacteria and viruses that can make us seriously ill.
Most notably, a team of researchers from the University of Roehampton in London concluded that regular massage can also help increase the number of white blood cells by up to 70%. How does massage help stimulate white blood cell activity in our body? Lymph nodes are the tiny glands that produce white blood cells. Our nerves connect lymph nodes to the skin. When nerves are stimulated during a massage, it also encourages lymph nodes to produce and release more white blood cells. This means massage can play a role in improving our body’s immune response.
How else can you boost your immune system? In addition to regular massage, there are other healthy choices you can make to strengthen your immune system, including time management to reduce stress, exercise, eating a healthy well-balanced diet and getting plenty of quality sleep.
Can A Massage Chair Help Boost Your Immune System?
There’s no denying the calming and de-stressing effect of a massage. But massage is more than just a luxury or a treat to yourself. Having a massage chair in your home enables you to have regular massages at your convenience, boosting your immune system, lowering your stress levels, improving your general health and making you mentally and physically stronger to help fight off infections.
Massage chairs don’t just help boost your immune system but have also been linked to helping manage mental health, reducing stress, and help you recover faster post-workout.
Buying A Massage Chair Online
Now is the perfect time to put yourself first and make a wise investment for your overall health and wellness.