Study works out kinks in understanding of massage
By Eryn Brown • Wed Feb 1 2012 10:34 PM • Extracted from LA Times
Everyone knows that it can feel really good to get a massage.
Now scientists may have figured out why, by identifying how massage switches genes on and off, thus reducing inflammation and coaxing muscle adaptation to exercise.
The discovery provides strong evidence that massage merits further study as a treatment for injuries and chronic disorders, said Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a researcher at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and lead author of a study about the research released Wednesday.
Tarnopolsky, who has studied the cellular effects of exercise for decades, performed muscle biopsies in both legs of healthy young men before and after they'd undergone strenuous exercise, and then a third time after massaging just one leg in each individual.
Comparing tissues from each subject's massaged leg with tissues from his unmassaged leg, Tarnopolsky and his team found that massage therapy reduced exercise-related inflammation by dampening activity of a protein called NF-kB.
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.
Other proteins with similar roles were influenced by massage as well.
Read the full article as published in the LA Times here.