Weekend Warriors Can Find Sore Muscle Relief With Massage!
At the first sign of muscle soreness after a heavy workout, it’s a common practice by many people to just take a pill to suppress the muscle inflammation and pain. The downsides of this practice is that it can ultimately slow the healing process.
A recent study published online in the Science Translational Medicine has proven that massage can actually reduce inflammation and help ease the soreness after exercise.
“With massage, you can have your cake and eat it too—massage can suppress inflammation and actually enhance cell recovery.” says Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, senior author of the study and professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Tarnoposky, a world-class cross-country ski racer, and was inspired to pursue researching the efficacy of massage after sustaining his own hamstring injury.
“The potential benefits of massage could be useful to a broad spectrum of individuals including the elderly, those suffering from musculoskeletal injuries and patients with chronic inflammatory disease,” said Tarnoplosky. “This study provides evidence that manipulative therapies, such as massage, may be justifiable in medical practice.”
In the study, 11 male volunteers were asked to vigorously ride a stationary exercise bike to exhaustion. Immediately afterwards, the scientists biopsied the volunteers’ quadriceps muscles to track the process of muscle injury and repair. Volunteer then received a 10-minute massage on one leg, but not the other. Another set of tissue samples were quickly taken, followed by a 2.5 hour rest period, which culminated with a third and final biopsy.
The findings proved that (1) the massaged muscles produced fewer cytokines, proteins that can cause swelling and soreness; and (2) the massaged muscles made more new mitochondria, which produces energy in the body’s cells. With more mitochondria, the muscles would be able to work harder in the future, as well as recover faster from the damage caused by strenuous exercise.
Simon Melov, study co-author and an associate professor at the Buck Institute for Research in Aging, in Novato, California, explains that when you exercise, you’re actually causing micro tears in the muscles as a result of that inflammation. “So when you get a massage… you’re damping down that inflammation which is the basis for the soreness you feel.”
We all know that massage feels good, but now we have a scientific explanation of it’s benefits. So the next time you feel any muscle soreness or pain after a heavy workout, you now have a good excuse to book a massage, instead of taking a pill.
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- L. Meyer, MD