Athletes appreciate the relaxation provided by a good massage. A study from McMaster University in Canada has demonstrated that people suffering with chronic inflammation can also benefit greatly. A 10 minute massage sends biochemical messages to muscle cells that help reduce inflammation. It also stimulates the cells to create more mitochondria, the energy factories of muscle cells. The study included 11 young men who bicycled for more than an hour and a half, then underwent massage before muscle biopsy. The scientists were surprised that the very short massage had such profound effects. Perhaps we could all use a little massage now and then for its healing properties.

[Science Translational Medicine, Feb. 1, 2012]

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  1. Lyn

    So, if you want to REDUCE inflammation, then only get a RELAXATION massage? Does a RELAXATION massage get circulation going as well as the deep tissue does? What exactly is the difference between these massages?

  2. Joshua

    Massaging really helps in stimulating the nerves of our body. Great post! Very helpful and comments are interesting to read. Thanks!

  3. CG

    I have degenerative spine which caused me severe pain in my right shoulder down to my fingers. Had a plate put in C3-C7, but the pain persisted. After one full year post op there was NO amount of drugs or physical therapy that helped me. The only relief I got is from a combination of Active Release Therapy and Massage. I think both would work on their own, but much slower than doing to two together! Look in ATR – This should be the new go to treatment!

  4. sjp

    I have been helped tremendously by a very good massotherapist. Since I weigh 110 lbs. she’s cautious as to how much pressure she exerts. She massages me from head to toe and is knowledgeable in cranial work. A few years before I went to her, I went to a Physical Therapy doctor who about killed me with the intense deep massage plus putting me on machines the same day. I was worse after he worked on me and after another visit, I became so ill that I decided his methods were wrong for me… too aggressive. One has to be very cautious in choosing the right therapist.

    • Karen
      United States

      Suffered 60 days straight after having a deep tissue massage. I am suffering tens times as bad, as I was from the beginning. What in the world did the message therapist do to me? She didn’t seem to rub me to hard, but she did push her elbow into my back… with just about all of her weight and it was painful. I didn’t say anything because felt she knew what she was doing and now, I’m wondering about that. :/
      I have numerous things wrong with me and we discussed what I was dealing with, for a little while before the message. Felt that I told her everything that I had been dx’d with, but apparently…it wasn’t clear enough.
      Dx’d with DDD, Spondylosis and Spinal Stenosis, compression fractures(T3-T4), scerlotic lesion(C2), Herniations(T8-T11- with protrusion at T8-T9), Annular tear L4-L5, and had surgery on C5-C6 with spinal diskectomy-ACD & F. Have an AVM in my left cerebellar hemisphere, Chiari Malformation(over the deficits-6.5 ), Fibro, Lyme, Adrenal insufficiency and allergies. She knew all of this and don’t understand, why I am still suffering. Did she give too much pressure?
      How do I fix this? Only thing that I know to do is go see my wonderful acupuncturist and see what he can do to help. I’ve been praying and hoping that some how or some way, he’ll be able to fix me or at least, get me where I can move again…without wincing. :o

  5. MTB

    I always read your columns and have gleaned much valuable information from them.
    It took over 16 years for me to get a proper diagnosis of Polymyalgia Rheumatica because I did not have an elevated ESR, even though I had all the other symptoms. I can’t understand why even a rheumatologist didn’t pick up on it. I had been on antibiotics so many times because of the low grade fever I often had and I believe that’s why the Sed rate was not highly elevated. My scalp was tender and I began having pains in my head near my temples.
    Then almost 2 years ago, an express care doctor gave me a 30, 20, 10 Scrip for Prednisone, I could not believe the relief it gave me. They just kept saying I had fibromyalgia, but I never had sleep problems or pressure points, but stabbing pains in various muscles and a great deal of muscle pain which was relieved when I rested a lot. Even after having the pains in my head I was ignored until I went to a rheumatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. After being on 15 mg of Prednisone for 5 weeks, I was able to gradually drop the dosage. I am now on 2 mg This all started when I was 64 and am now 80. I feel I lost so many years when I could have felt better How could this happen?

  6. HN

    REH, from what I understand, statins alone can cause permanent damage to muscle tissue, which may be what you’re experiencing. The deep tissue massage may have aggravated the tissue temporarily, but the statin is more likely to blame for the long-term pain. For that type of problem, acupuncture may help the healing process.

  7. REH

    I had a deep tissue massage, after suffering for 4 weeks of muscle pain in my arms– due to a statin. The next day I had “knives” stuck into all my arm muscles. Now more than a year later my right arm is still out of commission! The deltoid does not want to heal.

  8. HN

    As a licensed massage therapist for ten years, I agree with this information on reducing chronic inflammation. However, I caution my clients that “deep tissue” or “therapeutic” massage can actually increase inflammation in the tissue, so this article should have mentioned that “relaxation” massage is the best choice for people looking to reduce chronic inflammation, as well as for people with fibromyalgia syndrome.

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