I recently had the displeasure of having a nasty tummy bug, which proved very dull and was also very taxing on my body.  I cleared the infection after a week, but I really felt the need for some sort of recuperative treatment(s) to help build up my immunity, which really started me thinking on whether there were specific movements in massage and/or dedicated alternative therapy treatments that would help recuperation after illness or just help build up immunity when it has been depleted either through a trauma, stress, illness, exhaustion, depression etc.

Overall, it’s always a good plan to get regular massage because it helps to increase circulation, aids digestion, eases muscle tension and simultaneously relaxes the body and mind, but massage is more focused on sorting out muscular tension (which of course also benefits the body and it’s organs as a whole) – what about recuperation after a short illness (like a cold, flu or tummy bug)?  Can alternative therapies play a more direct part on the road to recovery, when do you start the process and how long should the course of treatments run to be effective?  Finding such answers can be a mixed bag of definite ‘best practice’ to ‘whatever works for you’ but one thing’s for certain, never undergo a treatment when ill – that’s a hard and fast rule that any therapist will enforce for your safety and there’s. You must let the illness pass and then give it a week just to be sure (if in doubt, consult your GP first).  Also, it’s always best to have a course of treatments vs one ‘bite at the apple’ – the physical body heals in stages so treatments should be gradual and it’s best to get a course of 3-5 treatments over as many weeks for maximum benefit. 

In my quest to ascertain how to get my massage therapist ‘mojo’ back after being ill, I thought it best to consult with the many therapist groups that I am a member of, so here is a general correlation of their kind (and detailed) advice on immunity-boosting treatments in the order of the most popular recommendations. 

  1. Top of the recommendation list was Manual Lymphatic Drainage and that makes perfect sense as it is tailor-made for stimulating immunity.  MLD is a very subtle massage manipulation (i.e. light strokes or gentle squeezing towards the heart, like blood circulation) to encourage drainage of waste materials and stimulate the body’s immunity via lymph, with particular focus towards lymph node/gland cluster areas like the jaw/throat, joints and groin areas.  I did a course on this some years ago and found it to be a very worthwhile treatment.
  2. Next came Aromatherapy, which I am also trained in and totally love (it smells great AND makes you feel good, what’s not to like?).  Best recommended oils for recuperation and general immunity were Clove, Lemon verbena, Niaouli, Thyme, Lavender, Lemon, G. Chamomile, Bergamot and Patchouli and a new one to me, Ravensara.  You can administer these via oil massaged into the body (use only three oils at a time, 3-5 drops of each in 100ml of a plain base oil) or put in a warm bath (again, three oils at a time, 3-5 drops of each). One therapist suggested essential oils rubbed into the soles of the feet, which really interested the Reflexologist in me.
  3. Reflexology and Jin Shin Jyutsu were next – I am trained in Reflexology but Jin Shin Jyutsu is new to me (you see, you can learn something new every day!).  Both practices are based on the theory of energy lines throughout the body that can become ‘blocked’ through illness, stress, lifestyle etc. and employ manipulating the points/pathways manually to free the blockage and restore the body’s energy balance.  Acupuncture also works along these lines but employs needles to free the blockages. I love Reflexology, which can be applied in both the hands and feet, and will be really looking into Jin Shin Jyutsu as it sounds fabulous.  

So, I’m off to book some treatments to get me back up to full-speed.  May you all be well and be happy!

The Kneader