Study shows massage reduces inflammation following strenous exercise and promotes growth of new mitochondria

Researchers from Buck Institute for Research on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario have published a paper in the (Feb 1st 2012 Ed.) Science Transitional Medicine Journal on the effects of massage on reducing inflammation following strenuous exercise and on new mitochondrial growth.

The study selected eleven young male subjects. Biopsies were taken from the quadraceps of the subjects prior to exercise. The subjects were then put on a stationary bike and exercised for one hour to exhaustion. A random selection process was used to select a leg for massage (one leg only). After 10 minutes of massage (on one leg) a biopsies was taken from both legs and another biopsies taken again after 2.5 hours of recovery. Below is the massage procedure used on one leg for each of the eleven male subjects.

(i) 2 min of effleurage, a light stroking technique delivered with a moderate pressure; (ii) 3 min of petrissage, a firm motion involving compression and subsequent pressure release from the muscle; (iii) 3 min of slow muscle stripping, consisting of repeated longitudinal strokes of ~40 s; and (iv) an additional 2 min of effleurage.

Simon Melov, PhD,  of the Buck institute Faculty conducted the genetic analysis on the biopsies. The results showed that the massage dampened the expression of inflammatory cytokines on the muscles and also promoted the biogenesis of mitochondria which are the energy producing units of the cell. It was also noted that the pain relief from the massage could be associated with the same mechanism as those targeted dy conventional inflammatory drugs. Glycogen restoring and lactate clearance were also checked in the study but not improvements were noted.

The importance of obtaining a monthly Deep Tissue (DT) massage and weekly massage are now ever more important for the athlete. It is important that the DT massage be scheduled for the start of the rest week in the athletes four-week block or three-week block for the older masters. The idea of having the DT Massage in the early part of the recovery week will allow the muscles time to repair and recover before entering back into a hard training block. Also the muscles will not function well and may also be loaded with soreness after the DT Massage. The weekly soft massage is critical in ensuring that the muscles do not gather trigger points or any major tightness so as to get the full advantage from any training which has been prescribed. I will also reduce the amount of work to be done during the DT Massage.

“Enjoy the Rub”

About The Athlete Clinic

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