Evidence shows massage speeds sports injury recovery


Wednesday 13th August, 2008

MassageThose working in alternative medicine and complementary therapy know the effect therapeutic massage has on sports injury recovery.

Indeed, the majority of athletes competing in this year’s Beijing Olympics will utilise massage throughout the competition. However, recent research has discovered scientific evidence of its healing effects.

In a study involving animals, scientists have determined that swelling and muscle damage after exercise is reduced by immediate cyclic compression of the muscles. The findings are the start toward scientific confirmation of the benefits of massage to athletes.

The research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise compared muscle tissue of animals, finding that muscles receiving simulated massage had improved function, less swelling and fewer signs of inflammation than muscles in the animals that received no massage after exercise.

Massaged muscles recovered an estimated 60% of their strength after the four-day trial, compared to 14% restoration of strength in muscles that were exercised and then rested. Massaged muscles were also found to have had fewer damaged muscle fibers and virtually no sign of white blood cells – their presence would indicate the body working to repair muscle damage, when compared with the rested muscles.

“There is potential that this continuing research will have huge clinical implications,” said Thomas Best, Professor of family medicine at Ohio State University and senior author of the study.

“If we can define the mechanism for recovery, the translation of these findings to the clinic will dictate how much massage is needed, for how long, and when it should be performed after exercise.”

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