Sunday, February 5, 2012

Here's an excuse to visit your massage therapist!

While we all love the seldom occasion of a great back rub, few of the people I know utilize or go to get a professional massage. Many say it's too expensive, or they can't find time to get to one. Those are some excuses not to go. However, today I have a pretty good reason for you all to head to your favorite massage therapist ASAP.

A new study has revealed that massage regulate DNA expression, particularly down regulating genes associated with inflammation and up regulating healing genes (Massage's Mystery Mechanism Unmasked). Massage has long been thought to squeeze out lactic acid and other cellular waste products, but this study by Mark Tarnolpolsky at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada contradicts this claim. Tarnolpolsky and colleagues tested the effects of massage by having 11 volunteers perform a grueling cycling session followed by a massage on one leg. Tissue samples were collected before the workout, ten minutes after the massage, and three hours after the workout and their genetic profiles where compared.

There was a clear difference between the massaged legs and unmanaged legs. The massaged legs at a 30% increased expression of PGC1-alpha, a gene that helps cells increase the number of present mitochondria (the energy center of the cell). They also expressed 3 times less NFkB, a gene that turns on the inflammation response. The study found no evidence of removal of lactic acid in the muscles.

This is exciting! This first study legitimizes massage therapy as a scientific treatment, not just a feel good activity. No wonder one feels so good when one gets a full body massage! So today's piece of biology advice: Get to your massage therapist and go often!

Original Paper:
Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage

  • Justin D. Crane
  • Daniel I. Ogborn
  • Colleen Cupido
  • Simon Melov
  • Alan Hubbard,
  • Jacqueline M. Bourgeois
  • and Mark A. Tarnopolsky 
  • Sci Transl Med 1 February 2012 4:119ra13

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