Study shows massage reduces inflammation following strenuous exercise

February 1, 2012

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.

Explore further: Massage eases low back pain in randomized controlled trial

Related Stories

Massage eases low back pain in randomized controlled trial

July 4, 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 ...

Recommended for you

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.