Many health benefits of massage therapy are well known, including increasing range of motion, improving coordination, and reducing stress and anxiety. But many people don't know that massage for wellness also serves as an important immune system booster. People who undergo treatment can experience measurable changes in their immune and endocrine response, making massage a great promoter of wellness and immune health.
What the research shows
Dr. Mark Rapaport is the chairman of Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences and lead author of a study on the health benefits of massage. He says:
“Massage is popular in America, with almost 9 percent of adults receiving at least one massage within the past year. People often seek out massage as part of a healthy lifestyle but there hasn’t been much physiological proof of the body’s heightened immune response following massage until now."
It can help fight off common ailments like the flu and seasonal colds. Jeff Smoot, 2015 president of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), says:
“Researchers working with patients with compromised immune systems have found massage therapy can improve how the immune system functions. Those same benefits can translate to people seeking to fight off the common cold, flu and other seasonal illnesses.”
The immune benefits
People receiving Swedish massage experience significant changes in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that plays a large role defending the body from disease. White blood cells help fight off viruses. Swedish massage also causes a large decrease in Arginine Vasopressin, a hormone believed to play a role in aggressive behavior. Massage decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to stress reduction and management.
Massage has also been shown to improve immune function in HIV positive adolescents. The therapy has also shown to improve immunity among women with stage 1 and 2 breast cancer.
Other health perks
Massage for wellness can improve patients lives and treat health problems in a variety of other ways. Other health benefits of massage include:
- Regulates the automatic nervous system activity
- Stimulates the circulatory, lymphatic and hormonal systems
- Improves posture and joint problems
- Alleviates arthritis and sciatica pain
“Massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you,” says Rapaport. “It appears that a single massage may deliver a measurable benefit.”
Acupuncture & Massage College’s Community Clinic offers acupuncture, massage therapy and herbal medicine for the treatment of a wide range of health conditions as well as for overall health and wellness. To schedule an appointment call (305) 595-9500. For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs ask for Joe Calareso, Admissions Director.