As the seasons change and we gradually move into the colder months, those familiar symptoms start rearing their ugly heads – the tickle at the back of the throat, the sneezing, the sore glands, the reduced energy. Before you know it your nose is running, you’re starting to cough and there it is – you’ve caught a cold.
You might reach for your usual over-the-counter pain relief and decongestants, or your tried and tested alternative remedies and hot drinks. But perhaps there’s another way to find some relief this winter…
What causes colds?
When you’re feeling run down and your immune system is weakened, the mucous membranes in your nose and throat become the perfect breeding ground for viruses. These viruses are what cause the common cold and the symptoms you experience are the body’s attempt to try to keep the virus at bay. For example, when a virus enters your nose, the body produces more mucus to help flush it away.
How can massage help?
Massage stimulates the nervous system, blood vessels, circulation and lymphatic system. This increased circulation, along with manipulation of the muscles and joints, helps to move waste and germs through the body more quickly. So massage can actually help you recover faster from a common cold.
The muscles in the upper back tend to get tense just before a cold or flu takes hold, and if you’ve been coughing a lot your chest, upper back and neck could be very tight. Massaging the upper back, shoulders, chest and neck can relieve this pressure and help the body feel more relaxed, enabling it to deal with the infection more easily.
There are certain acupressure points around the face, head and neck which can help to ease congestion, relieve headaches and release any sinus pressure you might be experiencing.
The detox effect
As with any detoxing treatment, it’s likely that your symptoms will get a little worse before they get better. Because massage speeds up the flushing of toxins from the body, you might initially experience more mucus, more coughing and more headaches. But this is just the body expelling the virus more quickly, meaning your progress through the symptoms will be faster than usual.
When should you not get a massage?
There are some instances when a massage may not be helpful. For example:
- If you have the flu you should stay in bed.
- If you have a fever, are feeling nauseous or have a contagious infection.
- If your cold is very bad or in the very early stages (a streaming nose or hacking cough won’t make it very easy to relax!).
If you have a minor cold, or you’re past the acute stage of the virus, then a massage could really help you feel better faster. You just need to weigh up how you’re feeling, whether your symptoms could affect your therapist, and use your best judgment.
Boosting your immune system
Stress is one of the most harmful things for your immune system. As we transition through the seasons we’re more likely to experience increased anxiety and stress which makes us more susceptible to colds and flu. Regular massage encourages deep breathing and relaxation which lowers your stress levels and your blood pressure. Massage also increases endorphins which help to boost your immune system, thereby increasing your resistance to future colds.
As with any cold you should get plenty of rest and keep your fluid intake high. This is especially important after a massage as it helps flush out all the toxins and germs from your system. So drink plenty of water and herbal teas during a cold and increase this after a massage.
Are you feeling run down or feel a cold coming on?
If you feel like your immune system needs a boost and you want to avoid the latest cold doing the rounds, why not book a therapeutic massage? Or perhaps you’re just getting over a virus and want to speed up the last of the symptoms.
Book a Thai massage with me in Brighton and let’s fight off that cold!
Hannah Moss is a Thai Massage Therapist based in Brighton. She left her corporate office job to travel to India and Thailand to study and follow her passions in yoga and Thai Massage. Hannah finds giving massages a truly rewarding experience and strongly resonates with the sentiment that “Thai massage is the art of giving from two hands and the heart”. To read more about Hannah click here
If you’re looking to boost your immune system the holistic way this winter, take a look at our recently launched cold and flu health kit. This fanatastic value health box contains hard working natural products that can help to prevent and support you through a cough, cold or flu. Find the box and other immune boosting products in our natural health shop
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