Mas­sage may im­prove blood flow while eas­ing mus­cle sore­ness: Study

Daily Trust - - HEALTH -

Mas­sage ther­apy can help ease sore mus­cles and im­prove blood flow for people who are ac­tive as well as for those who do not ex­er­cise, a small study finds.

Those ef­fects can last for more than 72 hours, re­searchers found. People with poor circulation or limited abil­ity to move are among those who could ben­e­fit most from mas­sage ther­apy, they noted.

“Our study val­i­dates the value of mas­sage in ex­er­cise and in­jury, which has been pre­vi­ously rec­og­nized but based on min­i­mal data,” Nina Cherie Franklin, study first au­thor and a post­doc­toral fel­low in phys­i­cal ther­apy at the Univer­sity of Illi­nois at Chicago, said in a univer­sity news re­lease. “It also sug­gests the value of mas­sage out­side of the con­text of ex­er­cise.”

In the study, the re­searchers asked 36 healthy but in­ac­tive young adults to use a leg press ma­chine un­til their legs be­came sore. Half of the par­tic­i­pants were given a Swedish leg mas­sage af­ter they ex­er­cised. All of the par­tic­i­pants rated their mus­cle sore­ness on a scale from one to 10. A third com­par­i­son group did not ex­er­cise, but got a mas­sage.

Al­though both ex­er­cise groups were sore right af­ter their work­out, the people who got the mas­sage said they had no sore­ness 90 min­utes later. In con­trast, those in the group that didn’t re­ceive a mas­sage said they were sore 24 hours af­ter they ex­er­cised.

Be­cause mus­cle in­jury from ex­er­cise has been shown to re­duce blood flow, re­searchers say, they also mea­sured the par­tic­i­pants’ “brachial artery flow me­di­ated di­la­tion” in their arms. This stan­dard mea­sure of gen­eral vas­cu­lar health was taken 90 min­utes as well as one, two and three days af­ter ex­er­cise.

The people who got a mas­sage af­ter they ex­er­cised had im­proved blood flow at ev­ery test­ing in­ter­val and the ben­e­fits of the mas­sage didn’t dis­si­pate un­til af­ter 72 hours had passed, re­searchers found. People who did not re­ceive a mas­sage af­ter ex­er­cise had re­duced blood flow af­ter 90 min­utes and re­turned to nor­mal lev­els at 72 hours.

“We be­lieve that mas­sage is re­ally chang­ing phys­i­ol­ogy in a pos­i­tive way,” Franklin said. “This is not just blood flow speeds -- this is ac­tu­ally a vas­cu­lar re­sponse.”

And mas­sage doesn’t just help people who ex­er­cise, the re­searchers also found.

“The big sur­prise was the mas­sage-only con­trol group, who showed vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal lev­els of im­prove­ment in circulation as the ex­er­cise and mas­sage group,” study prin­ci­pal in­ves­ti­ga­tor Shane Phillips, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of phys­i­cal ther­apy at UIC, said in the news re­lease. “The cir­cu­la­tory re­sponse was sus­tained for a num­ber of days, which sug­gests that mas­sage may be pro­tec­tive.”

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