How does massage work on muscles?

Massage increases blood flow to the target muscles, accelerating the delivery of the nutrients they need to function properly and, at the same time, eliminating metabolic waste that can cause pain and delay recovery. Massage therapy relaxes muscle tissue, reducing contractions and painful spasms. Massage can also reduce nerve compression. To understand this, consider that when muscles contract, they sometimes compress the nerves that surround them.

When these muscles are relaxed, the nerves are no longer compressed and, in theory, they can get the right nutrients and work more efficiently. Nerves can assume their normal function of transmitting messages to and from the brain, improving muscle and organ function. A massage after strenuous exercise certainly feels good and seems to reduce pain and help muscles recover. Many people, both athletes and health professionals, have long maintained that it relieves inflammation, improves blood flow and reduces muscle tension.

But until now no one has understood why massage has this seemingly beneficial effect. If you have a low pain threshold or are looking to relieve tight muscles, Swedish massage is more gentle and may be a better option. Tell your doctor that you are trying a massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have. Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or illnesses, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of affection, comfort and connection.

The massage also stimulated mitochondria, the tiny power plants within cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair. While this information is promising, more studies are needed to directly confirm the relationship between massage and serotonin levels in the brain. Therefore, massage can improve symptoms associated with the functioning of both the organ and muscles. It's not known exactly what massage does at the cellular level, but researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, found that post-exercise massage stimulated the production of energy-generating structures, called mitochondria, and reduced inflammatory proteins.

The massaged muscles had fewer damaged fibers and signs of inflammation, which could explain why they recovered faster. Conversely, massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being, whether you have a specific health condition or are simply looking for another stress reliever. For example, research has found that massage can reduce pain intensity and relieve muscle tension, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improve symptoms of anxiety, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Most states regulate massage therapists through licensing, registration, or certification requirements.

Organs can also benefit from massage, as they share neurological pain pathways with muscles, bones and nerves. Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing, and manipulating the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Although massage therapy is generally safe, deep tissue massage uses very firm pressure and may not be safe for everyone. Therefore, the researchers examined the tissue of massaged and unmassaged legs to compare their repair processes and find out what difference the massage would make.

Florence Baird
Florence Baird

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