If you’re thinking of getting your sweetheart a massage gift certificate for Valentine’s Day, better get yourself one too — your muscles will thank you. Researchers found that a mere 10 minutes of massage can help reduce inflammation of the muscle.
It’s well-known that massage therapy relieves muscle tension and pain. Now, researchers at McMaster University found that it also triggers biochemical sensors that can send inflammation-reducing signals to muscle cells. This means it can be a healthy alternative to pain medication. You may want to forego your post-workout routine of popping ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory medication, and enjoy a soothing, relaxing massage instead. (After you talk to your doctor, of course!)
In addition, according to Science Daily, a massage signals muscles to build more mitochondria, the power centers of cells, which play an important role in healing.
“We have shown the muscle senses that it is being stretched, and this appears to reduce the cells’ inflammatory response,” said Justin Crane, a doctoral student in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster, in a release. “As a consequence, massage may be beneficial for recovery from injury.”
The researchers studied 11 men in their 20s. They were asked to ride a bicycle for more than 70 minutes to the point of exhaustion. They were then asked to rest for 10 minutes. While resting, a massage therapist treated one leg from each man for 10 minutes. Researchers then took biopsies of both of the men’s quad muscles. They found reduced inflammation in the massaged leg.
“I didn’t think that little bit of massage could produce that remarkable of a change, especially since the exercise was so robust,” Crane said. “Seventy minutes of exercise compared to 10 of massage, it is clearly potent.”