Study shows massage reduces inflammation following strenuous exercise

Most athletes can testify to the pain-relieving, recovery-promoting effects of massage. Now there's a scientific basis that supports booking a session with a massage therapist: On the cellular level massage reduces inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria in skeletal muscle. The research, involving scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario appears in the February 1st online edition of Science Translational Medicine.

The study involved the genetic analysis of taken from the quadriceps of eleven young males after they had exercised to exhaustion on a stationary bicycle. One of their legs was randomly chosen to be massaged. Biopsies were taken from both legs prior to the exercise, immediately after 10 minutes of treatment and after a 2.5 hour period of recovery.

Buck Institute faculty Simon Melov, PhD, was responsible for the genetic analysis of the tissue samples. "Our research showed that massage dampened the expression of in the and promoted biogenesis of mitochondria, which are the energy-producing units in the cells," said Melov. He added that the pain reduction associated with massage may involve the same mechanism as those targeted by conventional anti-inflammatory drugs. "There's general agreement that massage feels good, now we have a scientific basis for the experience," said Melov.

Study participants were recruited at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Lead author Mark Tarnopolsky, MD, PhD, from the Department of Pediatrics and Medicine said the research provides much needed validation for a practice that is growing in popularity. "The potential benefits of massage could be useful to a of individuals including the elderly, those suffering from musculoskeletal injuries and patients with ," said Tarnopolsky. "This study provides evidence that manipulative therapies, such as massage, may be justifiable in medical practice."

About 18 million individuals undergo massage therapy annually in the U.S., making it the fifth most widely used form of complementary and alternative medicine. Despite several reports that long-term massage therapy reduces chronic pain and improves range of motion in clinical trials, the biological effects of massage on skeletal tissue have remained unclear.

Related Stories

Massage eases low back pain in randomized controlled trial

Jul 04, 2011

Massage therapy helps ease chronic low back pain and improve function, according to a randomized controlled trial that the Annals of Internal Medicine will publish in its July 5 issue. The first study to compare structural and re ...

Study: Massaging muscles facilitates recovery after exercise

Aug 12, 2008

Researchers testing the long-held theory that therapeutic massage can speed recovery after a sports injury have found early scientific evidence of the healing effects of massage. The scientists have determined that immediate ...

Massage after exercise myth busted

May 07, 2009

A Queen's University research team has blown open the myth that massage after exercise improves circulation to the muscle and assists in the removal of lactic acid and other waste products.

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

23 hours ago

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments