Massage cuts inflammation

07 February 2012

At a glance

Research in this WellBeing Natural Health & Living News item was sourced from: Science Translational Medicine

Massage is probably the most widely used form of complementary medicine. It is not only used by the general public but also by athletes who know the benefit that massage can give in the recovery phase. There is always the thought that it is just nice to be touched which is why massage is so popular, but now a new study has shown that the benefits of massage go much deeper.

For the study males exercised to exhaustion on a stationary bike. Prior to the bike exercise the men had muscle biopsies taken from their thighs using a needle inserted into the quadriceps muscle. After the exercise one of their legs was randomly chosen to be massaged for ten minutes, then muscle biopsies were again taken ten minutes after the massage and two and a half hours later.

By comparing the biopsies taken from each of a person’s legs the researchers were able to identify the effect of massage on the muscle at a cellular level.

The analysis showed that massage reduced the release of inflammation promoting cytokines in muscle cells. Massage also promoted the creation of things called mitochondria, the energy producing units in cells.

By stopping the production of inflammatory chemicals massage is essentially working to relieve pain in the same way as anti-inflammatory drugs, but of course without the potential side-effects to digestion and other body functions that the drugs offer.

It might even be that massage will help people with chronic inflammatory diseases like arthritis.

You probably didn’t need this study to tell you that massage feels good, but the medical community feels better when it has a \"scientific\" explanation for what to everyone else is the bleeding obvious.

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