Most people will tell you that a massage feels great after exercise. After all, massages can soothe sore muscles, increase circulation, and reduce inflammation.
These results have often been accepted as hard facts, but a 2012 study conducted by McMaster University (Ontario, Canada) has proven that massage can in fact inhibit inflammation and can be beneficial to muscles that have been damaged through exercise.
The McMaster study is neatly summarized in this NY Times blog post from 2012. In it, we learn two important ways that massage can aid tired muscles after exercise:
- Massage limits the production of cytokines, compounds that are responsible for muscle inflammation. By reducing cytokine production, inflammation after bouts of vigorous exercise can be greatly reduced, thereby decreasing recovery times and allowing people to exercise longer and more often.
- Massage can also stimulate mitochondria, the “engines” of cells that convert glucose to energy and are also responsible for cell repair.
When we combine the McMaster study with other work about massage, you can begin to fully understand the profound benefits of simple daily massages on your overall health.
For example, we already know that massage improves circulation (see this 2014 study from the University of Illinois at Chicago). Improved circulation can lead to better oxygenation of muscle tissues throughout the body, faster recovery times, and improved healing after injury or surgery.
But you may not be aware that a daily foot massage can also improve your heart health by improving systolic blood pressure and lowering levels of triglycerides in the blood (see this 2000 study from the Journal of the Korean Academy of Fundamentals of Nursing).
And if you’re still skeptical about the benefits of massage, consider the work of Dr. Tiffany Field, founder of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami. Over the last three decades, Dr. Field’s comprehensive work has shown us everything from how massage benefits athletes to how light touch therapy can stimulate brain activity and growth in premature infants.
For more information on massage, and for even more ways that a daily foot massage can improve your health, visit our blog post.