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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Study Spotlight: Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling

By: Joel Luedke

Massage therapy is a lot of peoples favorite way to relax and recover.  If you ask those people I don't think you'll find many that would argue its positive effects.  All that being said there hasn't been a lot of compelling research out there to show the physiologic changes on how massage affects those things.  While feeling and 'knowing' it works is good evidence it is always reassuring to see the
physiologic research back up the 'know'.  Check this one out.

What They Did: 
IN this study the researchers were looking at how massage would get a response in inflammatory signaling vs. no massage treatment.  They used separate quadriceps of 11 male participants after exercise-induced muscle damage.  The way they looked at these inflammatory signals was using muscle biopsies (ouch) from the lateral quad at baseline, immediately after a 10 minute massage and then after a 2.5 hour recovery period.

What They Found:
Like we mentioned this article got very deep into the science but we wanted to make sure to sum it up here.  There was NO effect on muscle metabolites (glycogen, lactate) but massage attenuated several inflammatory signals that thereby mitigated cellular stress resulting from the muscle damage.  Those were inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interluekin-6 while reducing heat shock protein 27 phosphorylation.

What It All Means:
You don't always need to have all the science to know if something anecdotally works for you.  While this isn't the strongest type of research out there it can be effective.  What this study accomplished is looking at a physiologic reason to help explain why massage appears to be beneficial for recovery from muscle damage.  This remains an area that needs more research but these results are promising in favoring that you can help mitigate/control some of the inflammatory process that comes with breaking down tissue through workouts/competition.

There is more work to be done but if you believe in massage either as a client/patient or practitioner this study adds more science behind how it can be beneficial and why that is.  If you think massage works keep on going with it and like they reference in the article is may be a great alternative to some other pharmaceutical options.

Resource: Crane, Justin. Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage.
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