You know that feeling you get after a nice, hard run or other workout. You feel great! You’ve accomplished something, you’re on the road to a better you. You lay down for a well-deserved night’s sleep, and the following morning…you can’t get up. Your body is screaming at you and you can barely make it down the stairs, let alone go on another run!

There’s good news for you, there is a way you can reduce these effects and the time it takes to recover and get back to normal. Massages are one of the oldest forms of popular alternative medicine and are used to treat everything from anxiety to digestive problems. It is also a great way to reduce your recovery time between intense runs.

In a study performed by Simon Melov, PhD to discover the molecular benefits of massage therapy, several people were asked to partake in an intense cycling workout. Samples were taken of the muscle tissue before and after the workout. Each of the study participants were then given a 10 minute Swedish massage on only one of their legs following the workout. Their muscle tissue was then tested after the massage and compared to the other samples that were taken.

The study revealed that the legs that had received the massage had less of the protein NF-kB, which is the protein responsible for muscle inflammation after exercising. After intense exercise, the muscle fibers undergo small tears, activating this protein and causing inflammation. The massaged tissue also had more PGC-1alpha protein, which is responsible for triggering the production of mitochondria, which helps energize muscles and assists in conditioning muscles to endure different and more strenuous types of exercise. Mitochondria is what converts glucose into energy to power your muscles and assist in repair. This boost helps muscles recover quicker!

Why not just take an inflammatory reducing pill, then? It’s certainly easier to pop an aspirin after every run than to get a massage, but you won’t get the benefits that a massage offers. The aspirin will reduce inflammation, but has actually been proven to slow the recovery of the muscle, extending the time it takes your muscle to repair itself.

If you are an avid runner or are new to self-improvement, it is important that you understand the science behind your muscle recovery. Massages help reduce muscle inflammation and the pain associated with it by reducing the protein that is triggered by the small tissue tears caused by vigorous exercise. Not only does it help reduce pain, but it also helps you recover quicker by increasing the levels of the protein that triggers production of mitochondria, the little builders of your muscles.

Don’t settle for popping a pill that may actually keep you down longer. When you work a regular massage into your health regime, you will enjoy quicker recoveries and achieve your goals sooner!

Article Author: Shelly Jackson is a Registered Massage Therapist and owner of Buena Vista Massage Therapy Clinic in Vancouver, BC. On a daily basis we deal with: resolving muscle and movement stiffness and pain; injuries from vehicles or sports; post breast cancer rehab; pregnancy related discomfort; repetitive strain and overuse injuries. We work with clients to reduce their anxiety and stress, improve joint movement, sleep and quality of life. Working with qualified massage therapists is necessary for your continued health. Contact us at 604-538-7166 and we would be happy to answer any questions you have.

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