Massage Heals Sore Muscles?

I think there’s a big difference between wanting to get a massage and having to get a massage. Personally, I’m a huge fan of wanting to get a massage. But having to get a massage? Not so much. I’ve been massaged under both circumstances, and I have to admit, the former is way better than the latter! When I want to get a massage, it’s quiet, it’s relaxing, and I feel great after the fact. When I’ve had to get a massage, pain sirens were sounding off in my head (the exact opposite of quiet), I was tense all over (certainly not relaxing), and after getting up off the table, I wasn’t sure if I actually enjoyed the whole process.

Now, researches have discover exactly why massage is so beneficial, and they have gone to great lengths to discover it.

Their experiment required having people exercise to exhaustion and undergo five incisions in their legs in order to obtain muscle tissue for analysis. Despite the hurdles, the scientists still managed to find 11 brave young male volunteers.

While the volunteer pool isn’t exactly a broad, ranging scope of those who exercise, they were still able to find a group willing to get cut five times just so researchers could get their info. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

It’s interesting to read what the researchers discovered:

They found that massage reduced the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation. Massage also stimulated mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair. “The bottom line is that there appears to be a suppression of pathways in inflammation and an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis,” helping the muscle adapt to the demands of increased exercise, said the senior author, Dr. Mark A. Tarnopolsky.

Dr. Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said that massage works quite differently from Nsaids and other anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce inflammation and pain but may actually retard healing. Many people, for instance, pop an aspirin or Aleve at the first sign of muscle soreness. “There’s some theoretical concern that there is a maladaptive response in the long run if you’re constantly suppressing inflammation with drugs,” he said. “With massage, you can have your cake and eat it too—massage can suppress inflammation and actually enhance cell recovery.”

This is why I’m such a believer in massage therapy and other types of hands-on work. Obviously it feels good, but there are some real benefits to getting it done while you’re doing through the Egoscue process. The fact that massage actually suppresses inflammation is a huge finding. I have a lot of clients who I will refer out for hands-on work, and this study is exactly why I do it. There are a lot of benefits other than the fact that it just “feels good.”

QUESTION: What are your thoughts regarding hands-on work?