The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism that is responsible for preventing infections and disease. It is a complex system of antibodies, white blood cells, chemicals and proteins that attack and destroy bacteria and viruses when such threats to the body are present. The immune system also includes tonsils, thymus, spleen, bone marrow and the lymphatic system as part of its defense network.

Symptoms of a Compromised Immune System 

When your immunity is not operating at full capacity, there are a number of indicators that signal problems. You might notice that you catch colds and flu more easily or that you are often sick. You may have allergies, notice swelling in body tissues or experience metabolic and infectious problems. Immune system weakness can also manifest as feeling fatigued or run down most of the time.

Causes of a Weak Immune System

Immune responses can be suppressed by any number of factors including:

  • poor diet,
  • emotional stress, anxiety, depression and trauma,
  • lack of sleep,
  • exposure to environmental or chemical pollutants,
  • medical protocols such as drug therapies and surgeries,
  • acquired infections or diseases that target the immune system, such as AIDS
  • continual demand on the immune system as a result of chronic conditions (Chronic Fatigue, colitis, Crohns),
  • lack of exercise or sometimes over-exercise,
  • dehydration which slows down the lymphatic system.

How Massage Can Help

Massage has a proven track record in relieving stress, improving circulation, enabling better sleep, delivering more energy and relieving muscle and joint pain.

All of these benefits also optimize the functioning of the immune system.

A scientific study which was the first to link massage to better health, appeared in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, and found that just 45 minutes of massage therapy resulted in measurable improvements to the immune system in the form of white blood cell increases and decreased levels of the damaging stress hormone, cortisol. Additionally, the study discovered a significant drop in cytokines, which are proteins related to the inflammation response in the body. Stress and inflammation are the initial building blocks to cancer, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, all of which compromise the immune system.

With more environmental toxicity in our world, we face increased challenges to our immune health on a daily basis. It is comforting to know that such things as massage hold the potential to support immune health when used on a regular basis.

Types of massage that can support an efficient immune system include:

  • Deep muscle and tissue massage that relax muscles and unkinks restrictions in fluid flow thus encouraging better circulation and efficient release of toxins;
  • Swedish massage promotes more efficient movement of blood and lymph from extremities and  increases white blood cells;
  • Trigger point massage improves circulation, relieves pressure on nerves and eases injury caused by repetitive movement.
  • Sports Massage is similar in style to Swedish massage and focuses on the muscles to improve flexibility and range of motion. It can assist in preventing injury before an athlete performs and aids in quicker recovery from such damage as sprains.

In addition to ensuring that your diet is rich in vitamins and minerals, that you stay hydrated and get plenty of active exercise, it is vital to keep massage on the menu when it comes to seeking optimum functioning of your immune system. We all need tools to help us navigate the daily stressors of life to arrive at a state of well-being.  Massage is a simple and effective step you can take to stay healthy.

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