How Massage Helps Heal Muscles and Relieve Pain

Massage may work as well as drugs like aspirin or Advil in easing pain from intense exercise.
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada found that massage affects the activity of certain genes, directly reducing inflammation in muscles — the same result you’d get by taking aspirin or ibuprofen — and boosting their ability to recover from exercise. #fridayfacts
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The study involved 11 young men who were willing to engage in what the researchers described as “exhaustive aerobic exercise” — the equivalent of an intense spinning class. The men rode stationary bikes to the point of exhaustion.

After the workout, each man received a 10-minute Swedish-style massage on only one leg; the other leg served as the control. They also had biopsies taken from their leg muscles before and after exercise, immediately after massage and then again two and a half hours later.

Researchers found that massage set off a series of molecular events in muscles that helped reverse discomfort related to exercise. Massage dampened the activity of proteins known as inflammatory cytokines, which cause inflammation and pain. It also increased levels of proteins that signal the muscles to produce more mitochondria, the cell structures that produce energy and help muscles recover from activity.

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