Massage speeds up recovery after sports injury

August 13th, 2008 - 2:41 pm ICT by IANS  


Washington, Aug 13 (IANS) Popular perception that massage speeds up recovery after a sports injury has now been validated by scientific evidence. “There is potential that this continuing research will have huge clinical implications,” said Thomas Best, a professor of family medicine at Ohio State University and co-author of the study.

“If we can define the mechanism for recovery, the translation of these findings to the clinic will dictate how much massage is needed, for how long, and when it should be performed after exercise.”

Anecdotal evidence suggests massage offers many health benefits, but actual testing of its effects at the cellular level is more difficult than one might think.

In this study with rabbits, the researchers used one mechanical device to mimic movements associated with a specific kind of exercise, and a second device to follow the exercise with a simulated consistent massaging motion on the affected muscles.

They compared these animals to other animals that performed the exercise movements but did not receive simulated massage. All animals were sedated during the experiments.

“We tried to mimic Swedish massage because anecdotally, it’s the most popular technique used by athletes,” said Best. “A review of the research in this area shows that despite the existing anecdotal evidence - we know athletes use massage all the time - researchers don’t know the mechanism of how massage improves recovery after exercise and injury.”

Swedish massage combines long strokes, kneading and friction techniques on muscles and various movements of joints, according to the American Massage Therapy Association.

After the experimental exercise and massage were performed, researchers compared the muscle tissues of all of the animals, finding that the muscles in animals receiving simulated massage had improved function, less swelling and fewer signs of inflammation than did muscles in the animals that received no massage after exercise.

The research was published in a recent issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

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