Is Sports Massage Really Effective?

August 22, 2013 General 0 Comments

Sports Massage EffectivenessThe debate might finally be over.

For years, researchers and healthcare industry professionals have debated the effectiveness of massage for athletes. Many professional athletes consider sports massage an essential part of their training and recovery routine, but there was no medical evidence to support the idea that massage had an impact on the body.

But researchers concluded an experiment earlier this year in which they had 11 young men work out vigorously. After their workouts, they massaged one leg and left the other to recover on its own. Tissue from each leg was biopsied and studied. The results were published earlier this year in Science Translational Medicine. Read the results of this one-of-a-kind experiment below.

The Experiment

Researchers were well aware of the pre-established facts: a massage feels good. Especially after a vigorous workout, massages seem to reduce pain and help muscles recover. But the experiment proves that sports massage can actually help the body combat inflammation.

Inflammation is an immune system reaction. It is a natural response to the tiny tears that appear in muscle fibers which are caused by vigorous exercise. When your muscles become inflamed, it is a sign that your body is working to repair injured cells.

Researchers screened the tissue from massaged and unmassaged legs to compare the difference. What they found was that massage reduced the product of compounds called cytokines – which play an important role in inflammation. It also stimulated mitochondria (tiny cells which are responsible for converting glucose into energy – which is essential for cell function and repair).

According to one of the researchers, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, these results show that when an athlete is massaged “there appears to be a suppression of pathways in inflammation and an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis.”

Massage therapist Paul Ingraham adds that massage can also improve your mood as it promotes pleasure and relaxation. This is important for athletes, who may feel tense or strained after an intense workout.


As a Massage Therapy student, you can learn the right techniques for preventing serious injury, increasing relaxation and improving the condition of the muscles. You could be an important asset to professional athletes, who are constantly straining their bodies to perform.

Learn more about the opportunities waiting for you in Massage Therapy at Missouri College.


What do you think?