Living with Autoimmune Disease? Massage Therapy Can Help

June 5, 2017
Ryan Barichello

Messages can relieve stress, enhance muscle performance, and have amazing therapeutic power with anyone who suffers from autoimmune disorders.


Many practitioners now recommend massage as a form of treatment for autoimmune diseases which affect a large amount of people.


There are so many conditions that are classified as an autoimmune disease. Examples of which include arthritis, multiple sclerosis and diabetes type 1. Many people with this kind of disease may require treatment throughout their life. However, when used alongside other treatments, massage therapy will ensure that some pain relief is provided.


In a recently published article entitled, “Autoimmune Disease: How Massage Therapy Can Help,” author and expert, Jimmy Gialelis, writes:


“Clinically speaking, autoimmune disease features a breakdown of self-tolerance, the body’s ability to recognize its cells from foreign antigens and pathogens. The body attacks its own cells because of an inability of white blood cells to read protein markers upon cell membranes. Depending on various sources, there are between 80 and 120 such conditions.”


Massage therapy will help you with the pain that comes along with inflammation, and can reduce the chronic discomfort which arthritis suffers mostly experience.


However, Gialelis suggests that a massage therapist needs to be mindful of the waxing-and-waning effects within a client’s body in accordance with any autoimmune condition. “Generally, full-body circulatory massage is not recommended, as this circulates white blood cells more rapidly, thereby increasing their efficiency. This greater efficiency can exacerbate the client’s condition.”


Below is a list of recommendations by Gialelis regarding massage therapy for autoimmune disease to alleviate body systems, yet not increase circulation significantly:

  1. Abdominal massage to affect organs will greatly improve organ efficiency. A form of abdominal massage called chi nei tsang, presented in many Chinese-medicine-related programs, can be a welcome addition to one’s practice in this regard.
  2. Stretching allows a client to receive myofascial benefit with minimal circulatory impact. Great stress relief comes from longer myofascial tissue.
  3. Myofascial release is a gentle means to freeing restrictions within the myofascial network of the body. This approach may be more easily received by a client, especially during flare-ups.
  4. Thai massage and shiatsu are practices that combine stretching with focused intention upon certain muscle regions and musculotendon pathways. These modalities can easily be more or less intense depending on the client’s state on any given date.


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Verified by Nick Gabriele.