Most of us know how relaxed and blissed-out we can feel after a massage.  We can feel the energetic exchange of a trained masseuse focusing on our tired neck and shoulders. We can notice our tight back muscles releasing tension with a combination of massage and stretching. As the recently published Get Well & Stay Well book by Drs. Steve and Sandi Amoils noted:

“There are literally hundreds of forms of massage and bodywork, including deep tissue massage, medical massage, myofascial release, postural integration, Rolfing, shiatsu, Swedish massage, Thai massage, Trager Approach, trigger point therapy and watsu.”

They also note that massage can have a profound effect on health including:

“Studies done by Dr. Tiffany Field on premature babies showed that those who received massage gained weight much more quickly than those who were not massaged. Studies of massage for patients with back pain show they have less pain, depression and anxiety as well as improved serotonin and dopamine levels. Other studies have reported that massage helps normalize cortisol levels in patients with fibromyalgia, depression and post -traumatic stress disorder….The healing benefits of touch have also been shown to boost general immune function and promote sleep.

So I was not surprised to read in the recent Science News (March 10, 2012) that there appears also to be a benefit with massage which includes tissue repair and reduced inflammation. Publishing in the February 1st 2012 issue of Science Translational Medicine, the researchers recruited 11 active men to participate in a workout that taxed their quadriceps (the muscle on the front of the thigh). Shortly after the exercise, one thigh on each volunteer received a 10 minute massage and the other didn’t. The researchers took muscle biopsies from both legs right after the massage and also 2.5 hours later. The massaged legs had reduced levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, an inflammatory protein along with activated levels of two enzymes called kinases. Two and a half hours later, the biopsies from the massaged leg showed reduced levels of interleukin-6, an inflammatory protein and elevated concentrations of PGC1-alpha, which plays a role in muscle fiber maintenance and cell metabolism.

So now you have no reason not to schedule that massage you’ve been putting off. In addition to relaxation and pain relief, you are also reducing inflammation in your muscles….aaaaaahhhhhh…..