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Massage therapy improves circulation, eases muscle soreness
Date:4/17/2014

Massage therapy improves general blood flow and alleviates muscle soreness after exercise, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The study, reported online in advance of print in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, also showed that massage improved vascular function in people who had not exercised, suggesting that massage has benefits for people regardless of their level of physical activity.

Improved circulation and relief of muscle soreness are common claims made for massage's benefits, but no studies have substantiated such claims, even though massage therapy is increasingly used as an adjunct to traditional medical interventions, said Shane Phillips, UIC associate professor of physical therapy and principal investigator on the study.

"Our study validates the value of massage in exercise and injury, which has been previously recognized but based on minimal data," said Nina Cherie Franklin, UIC postdoctoral fellow in physical therapy and first author of the study. "It also suggests the value of massage outside of the context of exercise."

The researchers had set out to see if massage would improve systemic circulation and reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Healthy sedentary adults were asked to exercise their legs to soreness using a standard leg press machine. Half of the exercisers received leg massages, using conventional Swedish massage techniques, after the exercise. Participants rated their muscle soreness on a scale from 1 to 10.

As expected, both exercise groups experienced soreness immediately after exercise. The exercise-and-massage group reported no continuing soreness 90 minutes after massage therapy. The exercise-only group reported lasting soreness 24 hours after exercise.

Exercise-induced muscle injury has been shown to reduce blood flow. In this study, brachial artery flow mediated dilation (FMD) a standard metric of gen
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Contact: Jeanne Galatzer-Levy
jgala@uic.edu
312-996-1583
University of Illinois at Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

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