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Massage has long been known to hold the key to pain relief. But a recent study by researchers at McMaster University and Cal-Berkley has suggested that post-workout massage conveys significant benefits for muscle recovery.
The results have important implications for different massage techniques including manual massage, professional massage, and post-workout massage. Massage stretches and kneads muscle fibers, which stimulates production of key proteins that increase production of mitochondria (giving the cells more energy), lower inflammation, and ultimately, repair of disrupted muscle tissue. The study says just 10 minutes of massage is enough to stimulate these benefits after an intense workout.
The research team instructed 11 male subjects to perform intense exercise until exhaustion. At the conclusion of the exercise period, the test subjects received a massage to one of their legs chosen at random. Biopsies of the massaged and non-massaged muscles were collected immediately after the massage and again 2.5 hours after the massage. After confirming that the muscle tissue had undergone sufficient stress during the exercise (by counting the percentage of torn or disrupted muscle fibers), the research team measured the amounts of relevant proteins and mRNA molecules induced by the exercise and the massage.
The findings suggest that athletes can reduce inflammation and aid in muscle recovery by including a ten minute massage session at the conclusion of their workouts.