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MASSAGE SPEEDS UP MUSCLE HEALING, REDUCES PAIN

Wendy McGrath Jul 12, 2013

PROBLEM:  Even though getting a massage is an increasingly popular way to allieviate pain and stress, very little work has been one to understand the molecular underpinnings of this healing process.

METHODOLOGY: Researchers led by McMaster University scientists Justin Crane and Mark Tampopolsky documented the biologica changes that massage evokes in 11 young men who purshed themselves to exhaustion on a stationary bike by analyzing their leg-muscle biopsies prior to the exercise, immediately after 10 minutes and after a 2.5 hour recovery period.

RESULTS: The participants' thigh muscles showed microscopic tears ad inflammation, but just 10 minutes of pushing and kneading reduced signs of inflammation.  Massaged muscle cells were also better able to make new mitochondria which promotes faster recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage.  Interestingly, the popular belief that massage helps clear lactic acid from tired muscles proved false.

CONCLUSION: Massage speeds up muscle healing by activating molecules that reduce inflammation and promote mitochondrial growth.

IMPLICATION: Most pain medications may be replaced by massage therapy since it blunts muscle pain by the same biological mechisms.

SOURCE: The full "Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage," is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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