Massage therapy allows blood circulation to increase, but did you know that it also helps with lymphatic flow as well? Studies have shown that receiving regular massages naturally boosts the overall function of the body’s immune and lymphatic system.
These two systems are closely related as they both initiate a defense mechanism against toxins and pathogens that are attacking the body. Increasing lymphatic flow allows the body to filter debris and abnormal pathogens out. Increasing one’s immune function allows the body to fight infectious agents and pathogens before entering the body.
What Happens When Lymphatic and Immune Systems Are Compromised?
When the lymphatic and immune system is compromised there can be blockages that occur in the lymph-nodes. Lymph-nodes are found all over the body including your neck, armpits, and groin. An inflamed lymph node or a blocked node can feel like a little ball underneath the skin. Massage therapy can help decrease or eliminate inflammation and blockages by moving lymph through these nodes.
How does massage boost the immune system?
Massage therapy facilitates the movement of the joints and muscles, which in turn moves lymph through the limbs. By moving limbs through the ranges of motion it utilizes gravity to pull lymph towards the center of the body thus increasing flow. Additional techniques used in massage include:
- Hydrotherapy (including the use of heat and cold) can promote contraction of the muscles to move lymph through the lymphatic vessels and capillaries.
- Diaphragmatic breathing (deep breathing) helps move the lymph through the thoracic duct. The lymph is drawn upwards with inhalation and is pulled outwards with exhalation.
- Lymphatic drainage is a very slow, light stroking technique that moves lymph towards the center of the body. The purpose of this technique is to isolate the effect of lymph movement and not encourage circulatory flow. Many other general techniques used in massage therapy improve circulation but not all techniques have a direct effect on lymph.
So next time you are suffering from a cold, flu or other viral infection, consider coming in for a massage. The benefits go beyond relaxation and can help you get back to your self as quick as possible.
Krystal McLean, RMT