There is a new study out from the February 1st issue of Science Translation Medicine. In this study they recruited 11 male volunteers to exercise and then have their tissues analyzed.
The initial biopsy analyzed tissue from each test subject's thigh at rest. Their next visit, each subject rode a stationary bicycle for an hour, until exhaustion. Then they massage one thigh from each subject for ten minutes, leaving the other thigh untreated. Immediately following the massage, they biopied the thigh muscles of each leg. Two and a half hours later, they biopsied each thigh muscle again.
Then the researchers got to work analyzing the massaged leg and the unmassaged leg.
The finding were fascinating. The biopsies showed that the thigh that was massaged had fewer cytokines. Cytokines are proteins which transport messages between cells. They may be involved in sensing pain, and are also thought to help reduce inflammation. There was also an increase in mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, which convert glucose to energy, essential for cell function and repair.
Unlike NSAIDS and anti-inflammatory medications, which only reduce inflammation, massage appears to not only reduce inflammation, but also help the body to repair itself.
How Massage Heals Sore Muscles, by Nicholar Bakalar, http://bluebird.typepad.com/my_webblog/#tp