How Massage Heals Sore Muscles – NY Times
Posted: Wednesday 26 November, 2014
To read the New York Times article, click here.
In this study muscle tissue was analysed to determine exactly how massage speeds recovery after sport and reduces inflammation and pain. Volunteers agreed to have muscle biopsies taken before and after exercise.
The study that was published in the 2012 Feb. 1 issue of Science Translational Medicine showed that massage reduced the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation. Massage also stimulated the mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair.
Dr. Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said that massage works quite differently from NSAIDs (Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) and other anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce inflammation and pain but may actually retard healing. ….. “With massage, you can have your cake and eat it too—massage can suppress inflammation and actually enhance cell recovery.”
We all know that massage feels good and according to the research, massage does you good too!
Why Do You Feel Good After a Massage?
Posted: Tuesday 28 January, 2014
Is it simply the result of a good rest? Time for yourself? A bit of TLC? It can be all these things but research shows that the feel-good factor is not all in our imaginations, the touch of massage changes things on a physiological level (in your cells).
In a 2008 research study 263 volunteers (me please!) had a massage for 45 to 60 mins. Average blood pressure fell by 10 mg Hg and heart rate by 10 beats per minute after one treatment. That’s about as much as you might get from prescribing a new blood pressure medication for life!
Another study earlier that year offered 50 people with mildly elevated blood pressure a 15-minute massage, three times a week for 10 sessions, while a similar group just relaxed for the same amount of time. Blood pressure fell at the end of the sessions and remained lower for several days—but only in the massage group.
So it seems that the benefits are not short lived either.
Samples taken from another group of lucky massage volunteers showed that measurements in the blood reflecting inflammation (specifically VCAM-1 if you like science) fell significantly. A control group just rested for the same amount of time and had smaller improvements in the same measurements. The drop in markers of inflammation is intriguing and suggests massage therapy may have a body-wide healing effect.
Given that tens of millions of people in the US alone grapple with high blood pressure, massage therapy can join acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi as complimentary approaches to maintaining optimal vascular health.
By no means throw away your blood pressure medication but do feel confident that the massage you have as a treat is also supporting your heart health in a significant way.