Massage, our Immune System, and COVID-19

Published: Mar 17, 2020 | Updated: May 19, 2021

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Massage, our Immune System, and the Coronavirus

Our immune system is a defense system consisting of many biological structures and processes that protects us against and fights off disease. A healthy functioning immune system detects a broad range of pathogens (anything that can produce disease), from viruses to parasitic worms, and starts off “the battle.”

The body first tries to protect against pathogens by trying to keep them outside the body (think of our skin, nose hair, coughing, sneezing, and so on), but when a pathogen manages to enter the body, a very complicated interconnected system sets off which includes a cooperation of white blood cells, T-cells, antibodies, kidneys, liver, the lymphatic system, our blood circulatory system, “remembering,” pathogen pattern recognition, vitamins, hormones, to just name a few things and actors in the theater.

COVID-19 Coronavirus

The COVID-19 Coronavirus is a pathogen of which infection may show fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, and other respiratory problems. Symptoms and discomforts can be mild, but in more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

When COVID-19 enters the body our immune system sets off (or should set off). The thing is that in most cases of COVID-19 infection the body successfully fights off the Corona virus. The facts are that “only” 1% to 2% of the infected population dies from the collateral damage the infection brings about.

Moreover, evidence indicate that the so-called death-rate increases with older people, or other people with an already affected or weak(er) immune system, or people with a history of respiratory vulnerabilities.

A Weak Immune System

A “weak” or “weakened” immune system can have a number of causes, such as a lack of vitamins, excessive alcohol use, genetic causes, lack of T-cells, lack of sleep, mall nutrition, lack of “detecting capacity,” stress, an already overworked or overloaded system, to just name some of the issues that can contribute to a failing defense system.

Another thing is that aged or older people experience a reduction in adequate immune response to infections. Although it is still unknown why exactly this is, evidence seems to point at so-called micronutrient malnutrition.

It is clear that a healthy and strong immune system includes many things such as mentioned above, meaning enough sleep, enough vitamins, minimizing stress, not smoking, having a diet high in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and many more factors.

Massage and Bodywork

Regular exercise and bodywork is one of the keys to healthy living and an optimal functioning immune system. It not only improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, and helps control body weight, but it contributes more directly by promoting good circulation to allow the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job.

In that sense, exercise, massage and other bodywork are crucial: you can take in good nutrition, have enough sleep or little stress, but if our “disease warriors” don’t reach the “battlefield” due to inadequate blood and lymph circulation, our immune system will fail.

Massage, for instance, can improve better sleep, relaxation and stress-reduction, but perhaps more important, it can support our immune system by loosening up dense, contracted or knotted muscle tissue by which it helps giving our circulatory and nervous system the space to receive and send signals and freely transport all materials needed in our fight against disease.

What we need to realize though, is that there’s no “miracle solution.” A healthy, optimally functioning immune system comprises of an incredible number of factors. What our bodies have, or don’t have, and the things we do or don’t do, our medical history, lifestyle and environment, for instance, influence its efficiency.

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