Do you ever feel like your muscles are so sore and tight that you can barely move? If so, you may be wondering if massage therapy can help. Massage therapy is a popular form of treatment for muscle pain and tension, and research has shown that it can be effective in reducing pain and improving muscle function. Massage therapy works by relaxing the muscles and breaking up congested areas, allowing blood to flow more freely. Studies have found that a 10-minute massage after a workout can reduce pain by up to 30%.
Additionally, massage therapy has been found to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, by 31%, while increasing levels of dopamine and serotonin, hormones associated with happiness and wellbeing. In one study, researchers applied constant, repeated force to injured muscles for 14 days. They found that both treated and untreated muscles showed a reduction in the number of damaged muscle fibers, but the reduction was more pronounced in the treated muscle, indicating that massage therapy had helped to repair and strengthen the muscle. The greater the force applied during treatment, the stronger the injured muscles become.
This is known as mechanotherapy and it has been shown to improve muscle recovery after an injury. A qualified massage therapist can apply a standard 10-minute sports massage to an injured area to help reduce pain and improve recovery. Several studies have examined the effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and other indirect markers of muscle damage such as impaired muscle function, swelling, and changes in muscle proteins in the blood. The results have been consistent in showing that massage can reduce pain and improve recovery.
In one study, men who received a 10-minute Swedish-style massage on one leg after their workout experienced a 20-40% decrease in pain severity compared to those who did not receive any treatment. It is thought that massage therapy works by stimulating nerve endings which helps to reduce pain. The exact physiological mechanisms by which massage influences the regeneration process are still unclear, but research has shown that it can be effective in reducing pain and improving recovery from injury. So if you're looking for evidence that massage therapy can help your health, you'll find plenty of research to back it up.