When you book a massage you’re probably hoping for a few things; most certainly, relaxation, and perhaps a degree of comfort and arousal. It’s likely you’ll anticipate that aches and pains afflicting your body will be soothed and that you’ll emerge from the session with a feeling of being refreshed and revitalised. However, in actual fact you’ll get all this and much more besides, especially if you arrange your appointment via a reputable and established agency such as Tantric Soul. One thing you may not have anticipated is just how much a massage can boost your immune system. It’s one of the lesser-known benefits of the therapy. And far from being quack-science, it’s been demonstrated to be true, many times over.
Back at the outset of the decade, research took place at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. A study revealed quite conclusively that people who enjoyed a 45-minute massage session had an elevated number of white blood cells, the very cells that do so much to ward off disease in the body. So we know, for certain, that massage does much, much more than just make you feel good. It’s actually good for you with regards to both short-term and long-term health and wellbeing. In the same study, the results also indicated that participants ended up with diminished amounts of cytokines. Cytokines are the molecules which have a significant effect in terms of causing inflammation in the body. Inflammation leads to asthma, cardiovascular disease and even psychological conditions such as depression.
Another benefit from the treatment was apparent in its effect on participants’ hormones. What was noticed was that massage brought down cortisol and vasopressin levels. Cortisol is, of course, the well-known stress hormone. Vasopressin is the hormone that contributes to aggressive behaviour. Consequently, massage can be said to reduce feelings of stress and pugnacity, making your experience of life much more pleasant and also making you more enjoyable to be around for friends, colleagues and family members.
The pioneering LA research from earlier in the decade involved 29 participants, each of whom was treated to 45 minutes of Swedish massage (a method employed by Tantric Soul masseurs). The control group, made up of 24 people, were treated to nothing more than light touching. Each participant wore an intravenous catheter that took blood tests both before and after the treatment.
Even better news is that it’s possible, in between massage sessions, to continue the immunity-boosting treatment with self-massage. Given that cold and flu season is about to descend on us, there could be no better time both to book your next appointment and to practise some of the self-massage methods that can maintain the benefits. There are three principle self-massage techniques that can be easily and readily employed; dry brushing, Abhyanga self-massage and acupressure. Dry-brushing is a form of exfoliation that assists with blood and lymph flow and reduces stress. It’s sometimes known as Garshana. Abhyanga self-massage uses warm oils and benefits circulation and good sleep. Acupressure is related to acupuncture and is concerned with specific pressure points on the body. Look out for a forthcoming update that will explain in full how to get started.