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Massage Can Boost Your Immune System

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The 2019-2020 flu season is expected to be a long one. It’s time for flu shots, hand sanitizer and extra hand washing. With the proper precautions, fear of the flu should not slow down your normal routine, nor should it stop you from therapeutic treatments like massage. In fact, taking time for massage during the cold and flu season can bolster your immune system, so long as you are healthy during the time of your massage.

Massage boosts your immune system by reducing stress and by circulating blood and lymph throughout the body. Swedish and lymphatic drainage massage are immune-boosting power plays. The effleurage (long strokes) and petrissage (short, kneading motions) of Swedish massage promote circulation of blood and lymph, helping your body to more quickly process metabolic wastes. Lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle, but effective therapy that will promote healthy movement of lymph throughout your body. Lymph plays a vital role in immune response by helping to maintain fluid balance throughout your body, while removing bacteria from tissues. Increased blood circulation means more efficient transport of disease fighting white blood cells. The circulation of blood and lymph throughout your body slow down when you do, so if the change of season has you more sedentary than usual, massage may be just the boost your body needs to protect itself from the flu.

Benefits of oils

If you are looking to add respiratory benefits to your massage experience, peppermint, tea tree and eucalyptus oils are invigorating options that will have you feeling refreshed and breathing easier. Peppermint applied to the face cradle of the massage table will help with congestion during your massage. Eucalyptus oils may be applied to the back and tea tree oil may be applied to the feet to promote health and relaxation. Discuss these options with your massage therapist to see which essential oils will provide the aromatherapy you need.

What if you're already sick?

While it is fine to come in for a massage if you have slight congestion due to allergies, if you are running fever, you should wait until you’re better. Not only will you not enjoy your massage with a fever, being contagious puts your massage therapist and those around you at risk of getting ill. If you are exhibiting flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, night sweats, headache, nasal congestion and a dry persistent cough), it is best for your health and the health of your massage therapist to see a doctor, stay home, rest and hydrate. Once you are no longer exhibiting symptoms, like fever or cough, it is safe to schedule your massage.

With the proper precautions, you can get through the flu season feeling your best. Massage is a valuable tool in staying well, as it can help reduce immune-system weakening stress and boost your immune system. Of course, if you are currently sick, you will want to see a doctor, stay home, rest, get plenty of fluids, and schedule your massage for when you are feeling well again.

Learn more about Ochsner Fitness Center.

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