Need an excuse to get a massage? A new health breakthrough in the area of natural health news has proven that this alternative therapy could reduce inflammation in the body. Since inflammation is implicated in a wide swath of chronic diseases, it seems that seeing a massage therapist might not be just about stress relief.
On a cellular level, massage lessens inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria in skeletal muscle. Mitochondria are the energy center of every cell in the body. The research appears online in the journal “Science Translational Medicine.”
The study involved the analysis of muscle biopsies taken from the quadriceps of 11 young men who had exercised vigorously on a stationary bicycle. One of each participant’s 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.
(Here is a story about how Swedish massage improved knee arthritis: http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/archives/swedish-massage-helps-rub-away-knee-arthritis.)
The results indicated that massage dampened the expression of inflammatory chemicals in the muscle cells and strengthened mitochondria. The reduced pain associated with massage may involve the same mechanism as targeted by conventional anti-inflammatory drugs. We know that massage feels good; now we might have a scientific basis for the experience.
The potential benefits of massage are vast. Massage could be useful to a broad spectrum of individuals, including older adults, those suffering from musculoskeletal injuries, and patients with chronic inflammatory disease. Massage could be used as actual medical practice in these cases.
(Want to learn how to give a great massage? Read Pro Tips for a Great Massage.)
About 18 million individuals undergo massage therapy annually in the U.S., making it the fifth most widely used form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Despite several reports that long-term massage therapy could reduce chronic pain and improve range of motion, the biological effects of massage on skeletal tissue have remained unclear.
A 2008 review of 13 clinical trials found evidence that massage might be useful for chronic low-back pain. Clinical practice guidelines issued in 2007 by the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians recommend that physicians consider using certain CAM therapies, including massage (as well as acupuncture, chiropractic, progressive relaxation, and yoga), when patients with chronic low-back pain do not respond to conventional treatment.
But we know now that back pain may only be the beginning when it comes to the potential of massage.