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Massage Shown to Help Muscles Following Exercise

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2008

(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- Intense exercise is often accompanied by simultaneous muscle lengthening and contracting, which can lead to swelling and damage. A recent study has found that massaging these muscles following the exercise limits the potential for injury.
Massage therapies are used throughout the world with the notion that they benefit health, but the objective scientific evidence to back this up has been somewhat limited. From traditional Thai massage, to Swedish massage, to Ayurvedic Indian massage, all claim to have numerous health benefits.
This study has focused on the benefit of Swedish massage on athletes following intensive exercise. "We tried to mimic Swedish massage because anecdotally, it's the most popular technique used by athletes," explains lead researcher Dr. Thomas Best. Swedish massage is most generally characterized by long strokes, circular motions, and kneading.
Using animal models, muscles were contracted and lengthened in ways to simulate intense exercise, which was immediately followed by the massaging of these same muscles for 30 minutes. Compared to those not being massaged following exercise, the massaged animals experienced less swelling and inflammation, better function and less overall damage.
The same process was performed over a four day trial. At the conclusion, the non-massaged animals regained only 14% of muscle strength lost, while massaged animals regained 60%. Also, massaged muscles weighed 8% less than non-massaged muscles, indicating lower swelling levels.
Massage is often used by athletes already, and has been accepted by many as a useful tool in recovery, but this is some of the first direct observational evidence to support this idea. This study was only performed on an animal model however, so to get truly conclusive results as to how helpful massage can be for active humans, further human studies will need to be performed. "A trial in humans could look at optimal indications for massage. Ultimately, we could also find out how massage helps not just exercise-induced muscle injury, but swelling and pain associated with other medical conditions, as well," concludes Dr. Best.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Best, Thomas. Soule, Maureen. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise news release. September 2008.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2008 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

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