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Massage Research & Articles

Massage Therapy for Inflammation After Exercise

Research through the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario indicates that massage therapy reduces inflammation of skeletal muscle acutely damaged through exercise. The study provides evidence for the benefits of massage therapy for those with musculoskeletal injuries and potentially for those with inflammatory disease, according to the lead author of the research.

The study found evidence at the cellular level that massage therapy may affect inflammation in a way similar to anti-inflammatory medications.

The researchers "found that massage activated the mechanotransduction signaling pathways focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), potentiated mitochondrial biogenesis signaling [nuclear peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α)], and mitigated the rise in nuclear factor κB (NFκB) (p65) nuclear accumulation caused by exercise-induced muscle trauma."

J. D. Crane, D. I. Ogborn, C. Cupido, S. Melov, A. Hubbard, J. M. Bourgeois, M. A. Tarnopolsky, Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Sci. Transl. Med. 4, 119ra13 (2012).


Massage Myths

Myth: Massage is just for relaxation.

Truth: There are a just few massage techniques specifically applied for relaxation, such as Swedish massage.  However, there are many massages specifically geared for clinical benefits, such as to relieve pain and tension, treat injuries, reduce symptoms from medical conditions, prevent injuries, and improve overall quality of life.  A few examples of these are injury massage, medical massage, sports massage, and deep tissue massage.

If you would like both therapeutic and relaxation benefits, your Massage Therapist can always include techniques to reduce stress hormones and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, making you feel relaxed, while still performing clinical techniques to achieve your therapeutic goals.  So you can get treatment for an injury, for example, and still get the relaxation benefits of feeling like you just went on vacation.

Myth:  Massage should hurt.

Truth: Out of a pain scale of 1-10, 1 being barely noticeable pain and 10 being the worst pain imaginable, the most a massage should feel is a 7, where it is uncomfortable, but never to the point of “ouch!”  When a massage reaches beyond a 7, your body goes into fight or flight and tries to protect the area by tightening, making the problem worse!  For massage, the saying, “no pain, no gain” should never be followed!

If you ever feel pain during a massage at any point and the therapist is not in tune with you enough to know they should lighten up, say something!  Take the responsibility to inform the therapist, so they do not continue hurting you or others!

Myth:  Massage is sexual or a form of prostitution.

Truth: In the late 1800’s, many massage schools undereducated and overproduced massage students, saturating the industry and leading to false advertisement and prostitution under the guise of massage.  This led to the social distinction between a “Massage Therapist,” who performs therapeutic massage and bodywork, and a “Masseuse,” who is performing sexual favors under the guise of massage therapy.

How to tell if someone is a Massage Therapist versus a Masseuse:

It’s all in the name.  Businesses that use “parlor,” “Japanese massage,” and “oriental massage”  generally provide sexual services. Also, if the business states that it provides a hot towel following the massage, that is also an indication that it is a disguised prostitution house.

Businesses that use “therapeutic,” “therapy,” or “therapist” will generally provide legitimate massage services.

Accreditation is also another way to make sure that where you are going is a professional business of massage therapy and bodywork.

Got Accreditation?

Businesses and therapists that are members of a professional organization, such as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), must meet certain requirements, including maintaining a strict code of ethics.

There is also a national certification for massage therapists provided by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) that guarantees a high level of competence and professionalism of the therapist.

We are proud to say that our therapists are members of professional organizations, such as AMTA, and nationally certified by NCBTMB!

Please feel free to visit any of the following sites to learn more about Massage Therapy and the accreditation process.