How Massage Heals Sore Muscles

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/06
/how-massage-heals-sore-muscles/?pagewan
ted=print

February 6, 2012

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR

A massage after vigorous exercise unquestionably feels good, and it seems to reduce pain and help muscles recover. Many people — both athletes and health professionals – have long contended it eases inflammation, improves blood flow and reduces muscle tightness. But until now no one has understood why massage has this apparently beneficial effect.

Now researchers have found what happens to muscles when a masseur goes to work on them.

Their experiment required having people exercise to exhaustion and undergo five incisions in their legs in order to obtain muscle tissue for analysis. Despite the hurdles, the scientists still managed to find 11 brave young male volunteers. The study was published in the Feb. 1 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

On a first visit, they biopsied one leg of each subject at rest. At a second session, they had them vigorously exercise on a stationary bicycle for more than an hour until they could go no further. Then they massaged one thigh of each subject for 10 minutes, leaving the other to recover on its own. Immediately after the massage, they biopsied the thigh muscle in each leg again. After allowing another two-and-a-half hours of rest, they did a third biopsy to track the process of muscle injury and repair.

Vigorous exercise causes tiny tears in muscle fibers, leading to an immune reaction — inflammation — as the body gets to work repairing the injured cells. So the researchers screened the tissue from the massaged and unmassaged legs to compare their repair processes, and find out what difference massage would make.

They found that massage reduced the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation. Massage also stimulated mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair. “The bottom line is that there appears to be a suppression of pathways in inflammation and an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis,” helping the muscle adapt to the demands of increased exercise, said the senior author, Dr. Mark A. Tarnopolsky.

Dr. Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said that massage works quite differently from Nsaids and other anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce inflammation and pain but may actually retard healing. Many people, for instance, pop an aspirin or Aleve at the first sign of muscle soreness. “There’s some theoretical concern that there is a maladaptive response in the long run if you’re constantly suppressing inflammation with drugs,” he said. “With massage, you can have your cake and eat it too—massage can suppress inflammation and actually enhance cell recovery.”

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Massage Combined with Resistance Reduces Hamstring Tightness

http://www.massagemag.com/News/massage-news.php?id=14308&catid=1&title=Massage%20Combined%20with%20Resistance%20Reduces%20Hamstring%20Tightness#

posted 9/14/2013

New research shows massage combined with eccentric elastic resistance significantly improves hamstring flexibility.

“A great deal of research has been conducted on a wide variety of techniques that improve hamstring flexibility,” explained Jeffrey Forman, Ph.D., N.C.T.M.B. “However, little research has been done on the effects of combining deep stripping massage strokes (DSMS) with eccentric resistance.”

This research investigated the effects that DSMS alone and combining DSMS with eccentric resistance have on hamstring length and strength.

Sixty-four people between the ages of 18 and 62 who had one or both hamstrings tight, and with no history of knee, thigh or lower back problems for one year before the study, participated. For the study, a tight hamstring was defined as a 15-degree or more deficit in passive knee extension.

On the more flexible hamstring, or non-dominant if of equal flexibility, participants received a deep stripping massage, which consisted of 15, 10-second DSMS that covered the entire breadth of the hamstring from insertion to origin at a pressure of seven out of 10 on a verbal pressure scale.

On the tighter hamstring, eccentric resistance was added using a Green Thera-Band® professional resistance band. To perform the Active Muscle Therapy intervention, the participants were prone with the band attached to their ankle with a Thera-Band extremity strap. The other end of the

band was attached to the massage table so that there was no slack through out the full range of knee extension motion.

After being passively placed into 90 degrees of knee flexion, they lowered their leg against the pull of the resistance band for a 10-count while a massage therapist provided the same DSMS that were applied to the other leg. On both hamstrings, the massage therapist used a Green Thera-Band Hand Exerciser as a shock absorber in their massaging hand and Prossage® Heat as a lubricant.

The participants’ hamstring flexibility and strength were recorded before and after the two interventions. Both techniques resulted in significant increases in hamstring flexibility; however, the hamstring receiving the deep stripping massage with eccentric resistance increased significantly more than the hamstring receiving massage alone.

Massage alone increased 6.3 percent, while massage with eccentric exercise increased 10.7 percent. There was no significant change in strength after either intervention.

“The results of this study indicate that utilizing DSMS with eccentric resistance improved flexibility to a greater extent than DSMS alone,” said Forman.

The study was conducted at De Anza College in Cupertino, California, in collaboration with the Wichita State University Department of Human Performance Studies. Their findings were published ahead of print in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.

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