So it’s a given that massages feel good right? After a long hike or run there is nothing quite like getting your legs rubbed down and after a long day at the office, a shoulder rub can feel like heaven. Have you ever wondered why that is? Why massage seems to almost immediately dull the pain and bring on rest and relaxation in your muscles? And not just kind of thought about it while you were ooo’ing and ahh’ing during your last session but really tried to break it down? Well last year, researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario took a microscopic look at the age-old mystery of why massage really works. Their findings, which were published in the journal, Science Translational Medicine, found that even a brief 10-minute massage can have some pretty drastic healing effects.
The research began as a result of some post competition observations by one of the researchers, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky. Dr. Tarnopolsky regularly took part in marathons and began to notice massage tables setup at finish lines. After asking the therapists what their scientific basis was for treatment and with none being able to produce any, he decided to take on the issue. Like the rest of us, he knew it felt good but needed to find out why.
Their study consisted of 11 young men after exercise-induced muscle damage in their quadriceps, all of which received a massage treatment in one leg but not the other. After muscle biopsies were taken, their results showed that those legs treated with massage had reduced inflammation on the cellular level and even a boost in the production of new mitochondria, which are essential parts of a cell for muscle generation. In layman’s terms, their study showed that massage is not only anecdotally but also clinically beneficial for reducing inflammation and promoting healing in injured muscles. As a biological mechanism, the relief experienced from massage was shown to be the same as that of most pain medication. One thing the study did not show, which might burst some bubbles if it holds up, is that massage did nothing to clear lactic acid in muscles, an often heralded benefit of a post injury rub down.
The research’s authors admitted that this was just the first in what would need to be many studies to determine clear medical proof but the data looks good. Either way, sometimes just feeling great after a massage is enough evidence to keep going back for more. Elements Massage at Chandler Village specializes in sports massage and can work with you on identifying and relieving activity related injuries and sore muscles. Give us a call at (480) 917-4880 to get more information about our complete and unique line of massage therapy options!