Massage Therapy and the Immune System
Massage therapy can relieve stress, rejuvenate muscles and ease chronic pain. But did you know that massage also helps to stimulate and strengthen your immune system? It’s true! The same tissue stimulation that heals your musculoskeletal system also benefits your immune system, and, with cold and flu season approaching, who doesn’t want an extra boost of protection?
Not only does a massage feel good, it can actually make you healthier!
T Cells and B Cells
Your body’s main line of defense against infectious organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, is the collection of structures and processes that comprise the immune system. At the center of the immune system are the cells known as lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are born in the bone marrow and migrate through the body to the lymph nodes and spleen where they face off against the invading antigens and kill them.
T cells and B cells are the key to a high-functioning immune system and research indicates that massage can play a direct role in increasing not only the quantity of these cells within your body, but also the strength and effectiveness of the cells. T cells are especially important; they not only release hormones that help B cells develop into antibody-producing cells, but also aid in the formation of specialized T cells called cytotoxic T cells. Cytotoxic T cells kill antigens directly, then stimulate the production of memory T cells that remember the antigen and are prepared for a more speedy and effective response when they attack again.
Stress and Your Immune System
The immune system is very vulnerable to the effects of stress. Stress hormones such as cortisol increase inflammation in the body, inflammation that can decrease the function of the immune system and make you more vulnerable to illnesses such as a cold or the flu.
Massage therapy schools teach their students about massage techniques that help to relieve not only emotional or mental stressors, but also help to improve circulation in the body and decrease inflammation, relieving the sources of physical stress that can severely handicap the immune system.National Institutes of Health (NIH) research conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found that even a single session of massage could produce significant changes in the levels of T cells and B cells, as well as stimulating the endocrine system.
Training at Massage Therapy Schools
Using massage therapy to benefit the immune system means more than simply giving someone a massage. Not only do you need to learn the ins and outs of the human body and how systems work, but you also have to learn the specific techniques that encourage the production of T cells and promote drainage of the lymph system. Quality massage therapy schools, such as Southern California Health Institute (SOCHi), offer the classroom courses and practical experience needed to give you a wide range of massage therapy skills.
SOCHi’s Professional Massage Therapy program provides training in anatomy and physiology, pathology, and kinesiology, as well as training in business principles, good hygiene and professional behavior and ethics. The program also exposes students to a range of massage styles, including eastern massage, specialized massage and medical massage therapies. Lymph drainage massage, a light form of massage that targets the lymph nodes, is also taught.
Staying healthy during the cold and flu season can be tough, especially with what our bodies go through on a daily basis. Stress and strain on the muscles and structures of the body will take their toll on the body’s ability to fight off bacteria and viruses. Massage therapy utilizes relaxing and rejuvenating techniques, as well as a thorough knowledge of the body’s systems, to target the muscles and lymph nodes, releasing toxins and stimulating the immune system to become stronger and more effective.