The ben­e­fits aren’t sci­en­tif­i­cally proven, so is this a case of mind over mat­ter?

Cycling Plus - - NEW KIT -

There can’t be many cy­clists who haven’t reg­is­tered the disconnect be­tween the pro­fes­sion­als’ ob­ses­sion with the ben­e­fits of mas­sage and the lack of sci­en­tific ev­i­dence for them.

Ac­cord­ing to Paul Hough, lead phys­i­ol­o­gist at St Mary’s Univer­sity: “The the­ory that mas­sage en­hances re­cov­ery fol­low­ing ex­er­cise is based on mas­sage hav­ing nu­mer­ous phys­i­o­log­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fects: in­creas­ing blood flow; re­duc­ing mus­cle ten­sion and pro­vid­ing a sense of well-be­ing. It is de­bat­able whether mas­sage im­proves post-ex­er­cise mus­cle re­cov­ery as few sci­en­tific stud­ies have ver­i­fied this the­ory. That said, many stud­ies have re­ported psy­cho­log­i­cal ben­e­fits of mas­sage, such as re­duc­ing the sen­sa­tion of mus­cle sore­ness.”

Dr Che­ung agrees that the ben­e­fits are pri­mar­ily psy­cho­log­i­cal, but no less valu­able for that. “The ac­tual phys­i­cal or phys­i­o­log­i­cal ben­e­fits of mas­sage are open to de­bate. It’s still likely a very worth­while treat to give your­self on oc­ca­sion. It’s a form of men­tal re­cov­ery, and it can have ben­e­fits in mus­cle re­cov­ery that may not be read­ily ob­serv­able in a lab­o­ra­tory set­ting.”

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