It’s estimated that roughly 9% of the U.S. adult population has received at least one massage in the past year. Massage therapy is a vast, ever-growing industry that is practiced by countries around the world. While most people seek massage to relieve physical stress and tension, it may also prove useful in boosting the body’s immune system.
The body’s immune system is responsible for fending off infectious disease and illness. Although invisible to the naked eye, we encounter a plethora of microscopic germs on a daily basis. Some of these germs are completely harmless or even beneficial, whereas others seek to invade our bodies and cause illness. The good news is that we have an internal defense mechanism to protect against this silent, hidden invaders: the immune system. It’s works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to not only identify bacterial and viral invaders, but also to neutralize them.
So, can massage really enhance the body’s immune system? Many experts are saying the answer is yes. In a study, “Massage Therapy: Your Immune System May Knead It,” Dr. Julia E. Reid explained the way in which massage affects the body. When you get a massage, it has an almost immediate impact on your circulatory system, stimulating blood flow throughout the body. As a result, white blood cells are distributed more evenly, enhancing their ability to target infectious disease and illness. These white blood cells roam the body as they search for potential invaders, neutralizing them in their tracks.
Massage therapy also reduces inflammation and water retention, which may play a role in its ability to strengthen the body’s immune system. Inflammation promotes the reproduction of disease, so by reducing inflammation it will naturally help protect against illness.
“One physical effect of massage therapy is an increase in circulation,” explained the Dr. Reid. “The more even distribution of white blood cells that results decreases susceptibility to antigens. Massage therapy has also been shown to reduce inflammation and edema. These physical changes contribute to the body’s immune-enhancing ability.”
Improved immune system function is just one of the many benefits associated with massage therapy. Other reasons for seeking massage include reduced recovery time for injuries, pain and stress relief and improved flexibility.
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