Archive for tag: massage research

Massage Reduces Inflammation & Promotes Mitochondria Growth

Most athletes can testify to the pain-relieving, recovery-promoting effects of massage. Now there's a scientific basis that supports booking a session with a massage therapist: On the cellular level massage reduces inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria in skeletal muscle. So says new research from the Buck Institute on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. You can read more about this study and watch a video from one of the researchers explaining how they made the discovery.

Biking

The study involved the genetic analysis of muscle biopsies taken from the quadriceps of eleven young males after they had exercised to exhaustion on a stationary bicycle. One of their legs was randomly chosen to be massaged. Biopsies were taken from both legs prior to the exercise, immediately after 10 minutes of massage treatment and after a 2.5 hour period of recovery.

Buck Institute faculty Simon Melov, PhD, was responsible for the genetic analysis of the tissue samples. "Our research showed that massage dampened the expression of inflammatory cytokines in the muscle cells and promoted biogenesis of mitochondria, which are the energy-producing units in the cells," said Melov. He added that the pain reduction associated with massage may involve the same mechanism as those targeted by conventional anti-inflammatory drugs. "There's general agreement that massage feels good, now we have a scientific basis for the experience," said Melov.

Massage for Low Back Pain

BackpainA recent study proving that massage therapy is effective for lower back pain, was featured on NPRs "All Things Considered."

Low back pain is very common. It often goes away after several days or weeks, but it may last for months or years or periodically recur. The usual treatments for low back pain include drugs (painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and muscle relaxants), physical therapy, back exercises, and education about ways to prevent back injury and deal with back pain. Some people use alternative treatments for low back pain, such as chiropractic or massage therapy.

This study compared the short-term and long-term effects of relaxation massage, structural massage, and usual care for people with persisting low back pain.

The researchers first gathered information about the participants' symptoms and how much those symptoms limited their daily activities. They then randomly assigned each participant to receive relaxation massage, structural massage, or usual medical care without massage. Participants assigned to the massage groups got about 1 hour of massage once a week for 10 weeks. The researchers remeasured participants' symptoms and ability to perform daily activities after completing the 10 massage treatments, and then at 6 months and 1 year after starting massage therapy.

Participants who received massage had less pain and were better able to perform daily activities after 10 weeks than those who received usual care. The benefits of massage lasted for 6 months but were less clear at 1 year, when pain and function had improved about equally in all 3 groups. The type of massage did not seem to make a difference. Symptoms and ability to perform activities improved about the same in the 2 massage groups.

(The full report is titled "A Comparison of the Effects of 2 Types of Massage and Usual Care on Chronic Low Back Pain. A Randomized, Controlled Trial." It is in the 5 July 2011 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 155, pages 1-9). The authors are D.C. Cherkin, K.J. Sherman, J. Kahn, R. Wellman, A.J. Cook, E. Johnson, J. Erro, K. Delaney, and R.A. Deyo.)