Massage: Found to Reduce Inflammation, and Increase the Production of Mitochondria

Joseph Brownstein, MyHealthNewsDaily Contributor
 

While some may enjoy a massage to soothe pain after an intense workout, new research gives some evidence that the effects of a massage go beyond providing a good feeling.

People who worked out for 70 minutes and then had a massage showed a marked increase in their muscle cells’ energy production, and a decrease in inflammation in the cells, a small study from Canada found.

For many years, people have gotten massages “without a huge amount of scientific underpinning,” said study researcher Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, head of the division of neuromuscular and neurometabolic disease at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

“Our work raises the very interesting possibility that endurance exercise may be enhanced, or at least the benefits may be enhanced, for those who have a massage following their exercise,” Tarnopolsky said.The study is published today (Feb. 1) in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Massaging the muscles

In the study, 11 young men exercised to exhaustion, which took about 70 minutes, and then after a brief rest, had one leg massaged while the other was not.

Researchers analyzed tissue samples taken from the men’s leg muscles shortly after the massage, and again after two and a half hours of rest, and compared them with samples they had taken from the participants after a previous, briefer workout.

They found two significant changes in the massaged muscles: a reduction in inflammation, and an increase in the production of mitochondria, which serve as an energy source in the body’s cells.

“The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, and increases of mitochondria are at the heart of the benefits of endurance exercise,” Tarnopolsky said.

At the same time, the researchers did not find any evidence of one often-touted benefit of massage. The massage had no effect on reducing lactic acid, which builds up in muscles during exercise.

“I think that this contributes to the growing body of thoughtful scientific work suggesting that massage itself, one, does have clear benefits and, two, there are ways that we can begin to discern the biology of why massage has those benefits,” said Dr. Mark Hyman Rapaport, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.

“It’s remarkable to me they’re getting such profound effects with only 10 minutes of massage intervention,” said Rapaport, who has studied the effects of massage for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Massages that heal?

Rapaport said future research should give a better idea of where massage may be a “biologically active” treatment, and could help with healing and athletic training.

The new study suggests “that by getting a massage, the athletes are getting something that is decreasing inflammation and promoting a more positive feeling,” he said.

One future research direction will be to examine the long-term effect of massage after a workout.

While the short-term effects seem positive, Tarnopolsky said, that there are some reasons to think there may be adverse effects from massage down the line. In part, that’s because the role of the body’s natural inflammation process in healing is not fully understood.

“If we suppress inflammation, could we slow down the healing process?” Tarnopolsky said, explaining that some recent research has raised these concerns.

“Although [massages] make you feel better, by reducing inflammation, is that actually reducing the body’s ability to repair?

“Future research, he said, should answer those questions.”That’s really the next step,” Tarnopolsky said.”If we’re slowing down inflammation, might a person be able to recover faster from a marathon or very heavy training session? Would it allow a top-sport athlete to put in a higher volume of training to get ready for a competition?” he said.

Pass it on: New research shows massage has biological effects on the body, and it may have a long-term impact after exercise.

Triathlon Training: Benefits Of Massage

Written by: Cliff English

Are you an athlete who cringes at the thought of making massages a part of your regular training habits? Coach Cliff English explains why seeking massages before your muscles seize should be an integral part of your training plan.

I definitely cannot say massage therapy is a foreign recovery modality concept to most triathletes, and even the most stalwart holdouts can be seen on occasion receiving a post-race massage or two. It seems massage is still viewed as a luxury and an indulgence and is used very infrequently. Most will still wait until every muscle has seized up and muscles and tendons are about as tight as the weave of carbon on your carbon-fiber bike.

Sure, if you wait until that point, you will garner some brief relief from your ailments. However, for an athlete at any level, the real benefits arise from frequent massage therapy and from working with a massage therapist that understands sports massage and your body. I believe that if you are serious about your sport and performance, it is essential to integrate massage therapy into your training program. To help convince those that are still unsure, I have enlisted the help of certified massage therapist Briana Averill to strengthen my points. Averill is a licensed and nationally certified massage therapist in Tucson, Ariz. She works with runners, cyclists, triathletes and swimmers ranging from the weekend warrior to Olympic medalists.

Massage therapy has numerous benefits for athletes. Massage can speed up recovery after a large day of training, a race or a big block of training. According to Averill, “Massage increases blood flow to the muscles to help speed healing by flushing out the metabolic waste.” Averill says it can also give the athlete a chance to reconnect his mind and body and decompress. In a similar manner, “active recovery” can be utilized in the weeks that you do not have a massage scheduled, and it is also a very effective means of flushing metabolic waste.This would usually entail a light 30-minute swim or a 60-minute bike ride at a lower-end aerobic effort (zone 1).

Averill says that regular massage can help manage and prevent injury by bringing awareness to areas of the body that are not functioning or responding as efficiently as possible. “The therapist, if he understands the nature of the various injuries or dysfunctions can treat the athlete accordingly if it is within his scope of practice to do so,” she says.

The ideal frequency for massage therapy is twice a week for an elite athlete, once a week minimum. For a recreational athlete, it would be once a week to once a month based on need.

In coaching, one of the key components to success is a strong athlete/coach relationship built upon trust and effective communication. Similarly, it is key to establish a relationship with your massage therapist so he not only gets to know your body but also is able to work out with you what type and depth the massage should be for what you need in that microcycle (week) or training cycle. Massage should be periodized, and when you integrate it into your yearly plan, it will really reap huge benefits.

“Every person is different and what is highly effective for one person may not be for another,” says Averill. “But in general, for big load weeks, getting a good, deep flush once or twice a month is great, but not so deep that fatigue is increased in the muscles.” Averill cautions that your therapist should be in tune with your body and should have the experience to know how much is beneficial. Recovery weeks are a good time for more specific work. Then, in a competition week, it is all about what works for you as an individual just as with a taper.

“Some of my clients have responded well with deep, specific work early in the week before a race,” says Averill, “while others just prefer a nice, easy flush mid-week to a few days before.”

Ideally, I like to have my athletes get a massage the day before either a day off or the day before a light “active recovery” day. This is a good example of how to effectively use massage as a key component in a microcycle. A deep massage the day before a key track session or bike interval session will leave the athlete feeling sluggish for that session, and for most it would end up being a tough day of training.

When possible, schedule your pre-race massage early in the race week and then definitely get a post-race massage either right after the race (highly recommended) or the day after with your regular therapist. Throw in an ice bath lasting three to five minutes somewhere shortly after the race, and you will get the type of recovery that most pros use. This combo will have you recovered and ready to start another block of training in no time!

For daily preventive maintenance, it is also recommended to do a little self-massage with a foam roller, a TP massage ball, quad ball, roller stick or pretty much any self-massage torture apparatus you can get you hands on.

The rollers are effective to roll out the quads, IT bands and calves while the smaller balls are perfect for getting into glutes, adductors and soleus muscles. Remember that while a healthy dose of pain is always part of a triathlete’s daily regimen, too much may not always be a good thing.

Staying on top of your recovery with frequent massage is a great way to keep your body fine-tuned and running like the world-class machine that it is!

Coach Cliff English has over 15 years of experience coaching athletes ranging from age-groupers to Olympians, first-timers to Ironman champions.

Triathlon Training: Benefits Of Massage

*Remember, you do not have to be an athlete to benefit from regular massage therapy! Everyone can benefit from making regular massage therapy a part of their health and wellness routine!!

Massage Therapy, Winter, & the Off-season

Fall'10Summer has come to an end and winter is just around the bend. Winter is when I see the most injuries and muscle related complaints. During the winter it is cold outside and potentially icy; we are cold, tense, and our circulation is not great lending to muscle tension and a greater risk of injury. Additionally, winter can be stressful; it involves Holidays, bad weather, multiple family gatherings, travel, and extra expenses.

Massage therapy is an essential component of your health care routine throughout the year, and the winter & off-season are no exception. Let’s take a look at just a few of the reasons why:

Cold, Snow, & Ice! It is now only a matter of time before we, in the Front Range, have our first snowfall of the season. Then it will begin, the driveway shoveling, tense excursions to and from the car, exercising/training indoors & outdoors: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling in slippery conditions. These are all things that put added stress into our lives, specifically on our musculoskeletal system. Fear no more, for regular massage therapy year-round can help to maintain your muscular flexibility & health, and decrease the chances of injury during the winter.

Winter Sports & Activities Winter sports and activities can be a lot of fun, but there is a definite risk for injury and it is very important that you have a maintenance/massage therapy plan in place to prevent musculotendinous injuries, strains, and sprains from happening. Yet, not all injuries can be prevented, and if you do experience an injury, massage therapy can be a crucial part of your recovery and rehabilitation.RetroGC

Stress Winter can be a time of tremendous stress. Winter brings Holidays, bad weather, multiple family gatherings, travel,  and extra expenses, all things that can cause stress; and let’s not forget that even the things that bring us happiness and joy can also be added stress. Exercise and welcomed life changes are stressful, both mentally and physically. Massage therapy can provide much needed relief, a wonderful place for peace, quite, stillness, healing, and relaxation for the mindbodyspirit.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, winter blues/depression) During the colder months and shorter days, many people suffer from SAD, a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. Most people with SAD have symptoms that start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. There are also those who may not have SAD, yet experience lethargy and feel gloomy during the winter months. Massage therapy can help soothe and relax your nervous system and bring an overall sense of well-being. Massage therapy decreases stress and anxiety levels, and is very effective in uplifting your mood – massage therapy stimulates the brain to produce endorphins.

Cold & Flu Season Winter is typically the season when many people get ill with colds and/or the flu. Massage therapy can boost your immune system and decrease your chances of getting sick; I almost never get sick! This is another great reason to make massage therapy a regular part of your health care routine year-round! After recovering from a cold or flu, getting a massage can be help eliminate toxins from your system – Just a reminder: As a health care practitioner, I ask that you do not come to your session if you are ill, especially if you have a contagious illness. Massage therapy can exacerbate sickness, and if you come to a session ill, it also puts me and other clients at risk for infection.

So there you have it, these are just a few of the many reasons why massage therapy is essential during the winter & off-season (…& year-round). Receiving massage therapy on a regular basis and throughout the year, gives us a chance to boost our immune system, improve athletic performance, prevent injury, promote healing, manage pain, decrease stress, experience quiet, stillness, and promote relaxation. Massage therapy allows the mind to be silent so that the body can heal from the inside out!

I look forward to seeing you this fall & winter for your continued, regular massage therapy care.

Please checkout the convenient online scheduling on the “Book Now” page!!

Be Well,

Maia

Get the Most From Your Next Massage

* Before the session, give your massage therapist accurate health information and share your expectations.

* Your massage therapist will probably use oils, lotions or powders to decrease friction on your skin. If you have allergies, tell your massage therapist.

* Music might be played during your massage session. If you find music distracting, let your massage therapist know your preferences. The same goes for talking during your session.

* Report any discomfort you experience during the massage session, whether it’s physical or has something to do with the environment.

* Provide your massage therapist feedback during the massage concerning pressure and speed of hand movement, for example.

* Discuss any apprehensions you have about massage therapy with your massage therapist. Remember, your massage therapist is a professional who is dedicated to the profession.

* Remember, too, the therapeutic benefits of massage are cumulative, so the more often you get a massage, the better you will feel and the more quickly your body will respond.

Source: Parts of this article were excerpted from mtj® (Massage Therapy Journal®) Spring 2010.