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No Surprise: Massage Therapy Works

In case you had any doubts, a new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that massage can relieve muscle soreness and improve general blood flow. The researchers noted that until now, no studies had actually validated what this investigation focused on – whether massage therapy is beneficial for aching muscles after exercise, and if the intervention improves circulation. For the study, healthy but inactive adults were asked to exercise on a standard leg-press machine until their legs were sore. Then half of the participants received massage on their lower extremities while the other half did not. After completing 90 minutes of therapy, the participants in the massage group reported no continuing soreness, while those in the the group that did not get massages were still sore 24 hours later. The researchers also reported improved blood flow (measured in the brachial artery of the upper arm) in the participants who received after-exercise massage, while the non-massage group had reduced blood flow at 90 minutes, 24 hours and 48 hours after exercise (their blood flow returned to normal at 72 hours). Because blood flow was improved in a part of the body distant from both the site of injury and the massage, the finding suggests a “systemic rather than just a local response,” the researchers concluded.

Sources:
Nina Cherie Franklin et al, “Massage Therapy Restores Peripheral Vascular Function following Exertion”, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.02.007.