Massage Reduces Inflammation Following Hard Exercise

Biopsy shows that massage promotes growth of new mitochondria in muscle cells

MONDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Massage therapy following strenuous exercise reduces inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria in skeletal muscle, according to a study published in the Feb. 1 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Justin D. Crane, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and colleagues administered either massage therapy or no treatment to separate quadriceps after exercise-induced muscle damage in 11 young male participants. Muscle biopsies were obtained from the quadriceps (vastus lateralis) at baseline, immediately after 10 minutes of massage treatment, and after a 2.5-hour period of recovery.

The researchers found that massage activated the mechanotransduction signaling pathways focal adhesion kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and potentiated mitochondrial biogenesis signaling (nuclear peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α). Massage also mitigated the rise in nuclear factor κB (p65) nuclear accumulation caused by exercise-induced muscle trauma. Massage had no effect on muscle metabolites (glycogen, lactate), but it reduced the production of the inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6 and reduced heat shock protein 27 phosphorylation, mitigating cellular stress resulting from myofiber injury.

"When administered to skeletal muscle that has been acutely damaged through exercise, massage therapy appears to be clinically beneficial by reducing inflammation and promoting mitochondrial biogenesis," the authors write.

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