Research indicates that massage can offer a powerful defense against the many things that conspire to make us sick. Whether you’re facing cold & flu season, a stressful time in life, a lack of sleep, or even poor circulation, it’s easy to become vulnerable to illness—but massage may be your secret weapon.
Let’s start with circulation. The action of a massage promotes blood flow, distributing fresh nutrients, oxygen, and illness-fighting white blood cells throughout the body, including lymphocytes—one of the most powerful crime fighters in the immune system.
Massage is a great way to increase blood circulation. This has the fortunate result of helping your body move bug-fighting cells like lymphocytes more efficiently throughout your body, attacking any viruses they come across.
Massage may, in fact, increase the number of white blood cells in your body. More massage means more white blood cells. More white blood cells means a better immune system, and, one hopes, a flu-free year.
Did you know your bones also have a blood supply and receive the same advantages from massage as your muscles? Blood flow brings calcium and other minerals to your bones to support their strength and function, so your skeletal system receives a major boost from massage
The lymphatic system, whose MO is to balance the fluid and function of your immune system, is also drained in the process of a massage, helping lymph nodes to filter out toxins, waste products, and other outside threats.
The lymphatic system is crucial to balance the fluid and the function of your immune system. Lymphatic vessels parallel blood vessels throughout your body and large groups of lymph nodes are found in the neck, armpits, and groin.
As your massage therapist works on flushing blood through muscle and tissue, they are also draining the lymphatic system, where the lymph nodes filter out dead cells, waste products, and possible pathogens. Sluggish lymph flow contributes to fluid retention, and draining the lymphatic system may reduce edema in certain parts of the body.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re stressed, you get sick more frequently? You’re definitely on to something. Studies have shown that chronic or long periods of stress can significantly weaken the immune system. When under stress, the body releases cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone, which has the side effect of lowering your white blood cell count, as well as the number of special bug-fighting cells called NK cells. Moreover, the effects of stress accumulate over time.
Massage (especially when experienced regularly) reduces cortisol. In addition to suppressing immune function, cortisol is linked to serious conditions like high blood pressure and obesity. With cortisol levels lowered, bug-fighting white blood cell production increases, and the parasympathetic nervous system’s “rest and digest” mode is activated, regulating blood pressure and reducing risk of conditions like hypertension.
What’s more, by relaxing the nervous system, massage encourages the overall balancing of hormone production. Hormones that regulate immune function, sleep cycles, menstrual cycles, blood sugar, and more all react positively to this effect, supporting a healthier—and more pathogen-resistant—you.
Digestion and Gut Health
Stress takes a toll on the digestive system, and a full-body massage can have a very healthy effect on how your body process food and nutrients. The parasympathetic nervous system regulates your digestion, producing needed chemicals (like saliva, gastric juice, and insulin) and stimulates peristalsis, which moves food through your intestines.
Classic Swedish massage includes an optional abdominal massage that acts directly on your large intestine to regulate the final stages of digestion. When food moves smoothly through the digestive system your stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, and intestines work together for maximum nutrient absorption, which supports your overall well-being.
And where are all these benefits best enjoyed? Right where you are, of course, because…
Home is Where the Health Is
Your home is your sanctuary—your personal retreat, where you can let down your guard and recover from the stresses of the outside world. What better place to get all the above benefits and more? At Zeel we live by this philosophy, and it’s why we make every in-home treatment the easiest and most beneficial experience it can possibly be. Why? Because healthcare feels better at home, and every Zeel massage should be a toast to your good health.