If this spring finds you globe-trotting, you’ll want to include a pre-departure massage. Travel can put you in “immunity-challenging” spaces: bustling airports and train stations, shared seats, and other germ magnets. And spending time in other countries can introduce you to intestinal parasites, viruses and disease, and different foods and sleeping quarters. You want your immune system to be prepared. Massage can help!
The journal Psychosomatic Medicine reported findings of increased natural killer cell activity (NKCA) and number of white blood cells (WBC) post-massage in adults who had short-term stress. (They were otherwise healthy individuals).
Children with leukemia who received massage had increased neutrophil and WBC counts, a study reported in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.
Cortisol is a hormone that we naturally need in our bodies. However, excess cortisol levels occur in response to high mental and physical stress. Two articles in the International Journal of Neuroscience associated massage with decreased cortisol levels. In one study, massage reduced cortisol levels and increased NKCA. Increased NKC numbers correlated with less anxiety and more relaxation.
Reminder: if your immune system is challenged due to a medical condition, make sure you check with your massage therapist before receiving massage. Massage is contraindicated for rashes, fever, and broken skin, amongst other temporary symptoms.
Before you hop a train, hop on a massage table!
When Nina Dropcho isn’t playing bluegrass music, she’s relieving neck & upper back pain with massage therapy at SpaAspen.