Massage therapy has long been touted as a way to improve overall health and wellbeing, but now there is scientific evidence to back up these claims. A recent study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has confirmed the benefits of massage, even for those who don't exercise regularly. The research suggests that massage can help with muscle recovery in endurance sports, allowing athletes to return to training faster. The same principles apply to foam rolling.
With its many purported benefits, research is being conducted on a wide range of patients with a variety of conditions. Most of the studies conducted so far have been small and preliminary, making it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of massage therapy. However, users report that massage improves overall health, decision-making skills, work performance, energy levels, and concentration. It also improves memory and blood circulation in the body.
At the cellular level, the latest research has shown that massage therapy helps the body heal. Even after a session, the body begins to respond to massage therapy. Researchers did blood and muscle tests on people before and after vigorous training; one group received massage therapy after exercise and the other did not. The results of the “after massage” group surprised the researchers.
Post-massage blood and muscle tissue showed an increase in a gene responsible for mitochondria development. Mitochondria are known for cell growth and energy production. Lifting and kneading muscle tissue (common Swedish and deep tissue technique) was also shown to “turn off” genes associated with inflammation.The research also contradicted a long-believed idea that massage therapy expels lactic acid from muscles.