Let the healing begin!
I came across a study that I’d love to share with you because educated clients are the best kind of clients! You can go directly to the related articles linked below if you’d like. Or stick around, and I will do my best to outline the important points of this study.
How Massage Heals Muscles – The New York Times
Massage’s Mystery Mechanism Unmasked – Science
Now let’s talk about the study, which was published in Science Translational Medicine. It came about because Mark Tarnopolsky, a neurometabolic researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, suffered a severe hamstring injury in a water skiing accident. The massage therapy he received did such a great job relieving his pain that was determined to find out why.
In the study, test subjects had a tissue sample taken from their quadriceps muscles (that’s the thigh muscle), and then participated in an intense cycling session. Ten minutes after their workout, one of their legs was massaged. Then researchers took two more tissue samples, one 10 minutes after the massage, and one 3 hours after the workout. The genetic profiles of each sample were then compared.
There were clear differences in samples of the massaged legs vs. the un-massaged legs. The massaged legs had had three times less of NFkB, which turns on genes associated with inflammation. They also had 30% more of a gene called PGC-1alpha, which helps muscle cells build mitochondria. In case you forgot your biology, Mitochondria make energy. Mitochondria are often referred to as the powerhouses of the cells, as they generate the energy that our cells need to do their jobs. They are pretty important little buggers!
So what the heck does all this mean?
These results suggest that massage suppresses the inflammation that follows exercise while promoting faster healing.
- Massage turns on genes that help muscles heal
- Massage turns off genes associated with inflammation
If you beat on your body in sports or at the gym you should definitely be making regular massage a part of your post-exercise recovery routine. And nothing fuels you through a workout like knowing you will be enjoying a massage after all your hard work!