Can Therapeutic Massage Reduce your Allergy Symptoms?
Did you know that allergies are the country’s 5th most chronic illness? According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthmas and Immunology, allergies affect more than 50 million Americans.
If you’re taking antihistamines, inhalers, and other medications to reduce your allergy symptoms, why not also treat your immune system with therapeutic massage? The reason we have allergies is because our immune system is “overreacting” to something in our environment: pollen, leaf mold, dust, dog or cat dander, or something else.
Your body’s mast cells react to allergens by releasing histamines. That’s what causes your runny nose, cough, or even worse allergy symptoms. Eczema, sinusitis, earaches and headaches, and even joint pain, migraines and depression can also be triggered by allergic reactions.
Massage Therapy for Allergies
Massage therapy can actually also help relieve some allergy symptoms. How? By reducing stress, increasing circulation, releasing muscle tension and reprogramming the body’s “panic reaction”.
“It’s not to take away from the biological, inflammatory component of the disorder,” says Rosalind Wright, MD, a pulmonist on staff at the Harvard Medical School when speaking with the American Massage Therapy Association. “But if you use complementary modalities, including massage therapy, you could optimize the results.”
Massage helps with stress, and stress definitely impacts allergies. Wright says that these stressors act like “social pollutants” breathed through the body, influencing the body’s immune response. “Just as you can breathe in an allergen like dust mites or ragweed, you can breathe in stress,” she says. “You take it into your body and it operates in similar types of pathways.”
Many of our sinus trigger points are located in the upper back and shoulders. Just lying face-down on the massage table can help with sinus congestion, while massaging the upper back and shoulders can also be a help.
Calming the muscles around the clavicle and neck can also help to calm the fight-or-flight response brought on by allergies. During allergy season, you might feel yourself hiking your shoulders, and your throat can feel tighter. A good therapeutic massage can help alleviate those issues.
Massaging the head and scalp can help as well, because tight muscles there can result in restriction in your sinuses.
Also, one-third of the lymph nodes are in the neck, and are directly parts of your immune system. Craniosacral techniques can impact the immune system through the endocrine glands and increase overall fluid exchange, which is helpful in allergy relief.
If you’re struggling with managing allergy symptoms, try making therapeutic massage part of your arsenal against allergies!