Post-Exercise Massages Work: New Research Proves Connection

Why You ReallyNeed That Massage

What if you could get a doctor's note for that massage?

A new study published in Science Translational Medicine found that a short, 10-minute Swedish-style massage session can reduce inflammation, which can help your muscles recover after a hard workout.

"What massage seems to do is ... it reduces the inflammatory response as a function of the damage you incurred while you're exercising," explained one of the study's authors Simon Melov, a molecular biologist at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

He and the other researchers, including lead author Dr. Mark A. Tarnopolsky of McMaster University, had 11 healthy young male participants work out to their maximum capabilities on a stationary bike. They took muscle tissue samples from the legs of each study participant before and after the intense workout. They also took a third sample from one of the legs, after it had been subjected to a 10-minute massage.

They found that the post-workout tissue samples from massaged leg muscles were vastly different from those that didn't receive the massage. Namely, the massaged samples had less of a protein called NF-kB, which plays a role in creating an inflammatory response to exercise.

Massage also seemed to help cells recover by boosting amounts of another protein called PGC-1alpha, which spurs production of new mitochondria -- tiny organelles inside cells that are crucial for muscle energy generation and adaptation to endurance exercise.

To learn more, listen to Melov explain the research in this video: