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  • Amy Tankersley

Boosting Immunity with Massage

Updated: Aug 6


How are your employees protected?

With East Tennessee now officially a COVID-19 hot spot, it seems like we’re all looking for the best ways to stay healthy, especially as we also return to work. And, although there’s no substitute for the first-line defense of hand washing, there’s only so many times a day we can do it! If you’re like me, the first time you touch something after washing your hands, you’re left feeling defeated as you wonder what germs you just picked up.



If hand washing is front line defense, then surely masks are the go-to offense. Looking around there appears to be MUCH confusion over why to wear a mask. To me, it simply boils down to being a good neighbor: I wear my mask not to primarily protect me but to protect you from me, because let’s face it, in spite of my best efforts, who knows what germs I’ve picked up throughout my day.



With all this, is it any wonder why we’re all more than a little stressed these days? Stress, however, wreaks havoc on our health as it increases the hormone cortisol which can elevate blood pressure, heart rate, cause headaches, digestive problems, weight gain, sleeplessness, memory, and concentration issues, among other nasties. All of this compromises our body’s natural immune response making us even more susceptible to contracting disease and illness.


In spite of it all, we continue to do our part trying our best to work 6 feet apart and hope it’s all going to be enough. At the same time, we search and hope for anything that could actually MAKE our workplace healthier and our workforce stronger in the ongoing fight against this vicious virus. And, while the answer may seem more than a little counter-intuitive at first, once you analyze the facts you begin to understand that NOW is the perfect time to bring massage into the workplace.


Why massage? Why now? Bear with me as we get a little technical. Massage not only reduces stress by helping naturally lower cortisol levels, it also boosts our body’s innate immune response by increasing lymphocytes (white blood cells) that increase the immune system's cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of the body's natural "killer cells") and decreasing the number of T-cells, which improves the body's immune functioning overall. Less stress and its harmful side effects. More immune response and its natural disease-fighting benefits.


Worksite massage is a powerful prescription that can literally make your workplace healthier by strengthening the health of your workforce. Better yet, the only side effects your employees will experience are moving, thinking, and feeling better throughout the day!


Too good to be true? There’s data to prove it!


In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers at Cedars-Sinai performed a controlled study of 53 healthy adults where 29 participants received 45 minutes of Swedish massage while the other 24 received light touch for the same time. Results were measured by collecting blood samples 5 and 1 minute before each session started and comparing the results to samples taken 1, 5, 10, 15, 30, and 60 minutes after each session. The results of the study revealed:

  • People in the Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes which play a large role in defending the body from disease

  • Swedish massage caused a decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol

  • Swedish massage caused a large decrease in Arginine Vasopressin (AVP) a hormone linked to causing increases in cortisol and also playing a role in aggressive behavior

  • Swedish massage caused a notable decrease in most cytokines produced by stimulated white blood cells

According to Mark Rapaport, MD, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai, “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. Rapaport, the principal investigator of the study, went on to say, “This research indicates that massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you…it appears that a single massage may deliver a measurable benefit.”


Now more than ever we need massage not only for its ability to reduce stress and naturally lower cortisol levels but especially for its ability to boost our body’s innate immune response.

Worksite massage is a powerful (and did I mention pleasurable?!) prescription to help keep your workforce healthy. Less stress and its harmful side effects. More immune response and its natural disease-fighting benefits. It’s a prescription that can literally make your workplace healthier by strengthening the natural disease-fighting ability of your workforce. And the BEST news of all is the only side effects your employees will experience are moving, thinking, and feeling better throughout their day!


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