|New research is showing the potential
health benefits of massage therapy
go beyond just feeling good.
We all know that getting a massage feels good. That alone is reason enough for many to get their weekly or monthly massage – but did you know recent scientific studies are showing massages have tangible health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and boosting your immune system? Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have recently reported that a single massage produced measurable changes in the immune system and endocrine system of healthy adults.
What does the New Research Say?
New research is starting to reveal just what happens in the body after a massage. While there have long been theories about how massage works—from releasing toxins to improving circulation—those have been fairly nebulous, with little hard evidence. Now, one study, for example, found several changes in the blood that indicated a benefit to the immune system.
The researchers, led by Dr. Mark Rapaport, studied 29 healthy adults who received a 45-minute Swedish massage and 24 healthy adults who had a 45-minute session of light touch massage, a much milder exercise that served as a comparison to the more vigorous Swedish massage. Blood samples were taken before the massage began and at regular intervals up to one hour after the massage was completed.
The Swedish massage group saw sizeable decreases in arginine vasopressin, a hormone that contributes to aggressive behavior, and small decreases in the stress hormone cortisol. The Swedish massage participants also had an increase in lymphocytes, cells that help the immune system defend the body from harmful substances.
There are a couple factors that account for this correlation between a massage and a stronger immune response. First, massage therapy promotes increased lymphatic circulation, a process whereby lymph moves throughout the body, eliminates pathogens and other waste, and increases the spread of white blood cells. Such a process serves to boost your infection-fighting capabilities. Second, a massage can reduce your levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with pressure and stress. High levels of cortisol can boost blood pressure and reduce natural killer cells. Low levels, on the other hand, can allow immune cells to do their job without interference.
“This research indicates that massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you,” Rapaport said in a news release. “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.”
Do yourself (and your immune system) a favor this cold & flu season and get at least a monthly massage to remain healthy and happy! Please share with your friends and help spread the word!