The Latest Research

 New Research Shows How Massage Reduces Inflammation and Promotes Cellular Healing

 In a February 2012 study, researchers in the Kinesiology Department at McMaster University, in Ontario, Canada, showed that massage “appears to be clinically beneficial by reducing inflammation and promoting mitochondrial biogenesis” when administered to skeletal muscle damaged through exercise. Mitochondrial biogenesis is the growth and creation of mitochondria, the cell’s energy producers. In other words, massage therapy helps cells in fatigued and injured muscles rebuild themselves.

This study shows that massage therapy not only helps athletes and others feel better, it also helps them rebuild their muscles by suppressing the factors that create inflammation. In addition, massage increases mitochondrial biogenesis, speeds recovery and helps athletes adapt to increasingly demanding exercise.  It is the first study to demonstrate that massage has a direct effect on pain, by reducing the pro-inflammatory cytokines,which are regulators that support inflammation. 

An article on the study, “Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage,” was published in Science Translational Medicine in February and is available online (


Deep Tissue Massage Shown to Decrease Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

 A study done in 2008 at Louisiana State University demonstrated that deep tissue massage lowers both heart rate and blood pressure.  A multidisciplinary team of researchers at LSU Health Sciences Center’s Department of Anesthesiology studied a group of men and women with a variety of soft tissue injuries.  All the participants in the study had moderate to severe muscle spasm and/or strain.  The subjects each received 45-60 minute deep tissue massage sessions, performed by a massage therapist who had 22 years of professional experience.

Baseline measurements of both blood pressure and heart rate were taken for each subject prior to the deep tissue massage.  Following the deep tissue massage session, data for blood pressure and heart rate were collected again.  Systolic blood pressure fell an average of !0.4 ml of mercury, diastolic blood pressure dropped an average of 5.3 ml of mercury.  Mean arterial pressure fell an average of 7.0 ml of mercury.  Heart rate was reduced an average of 10.8 beats per minute

The authors of the study believe that the data shows a high correlation between deep tissue massage and reduction of heart rate and blood pressure.   

To read more about the study, go here:


Massage Immediately Following Exercise Improves Muscle Recovery

In 2008 a group of scientists at Ohio State University demonstrated that massage-like compression of muscle tissue immediately following exercise benefits muscle recovery more than rest only.  Using anesthetized rabbits strapped to machines that recreate a specific type of muscle contaction, and another machine created to mimic certain massage techniques, the scientists found that the group of rabbits receiving massage showed recovery of muscle strength that was 46% greater than the muscles of rabbits that were simply rested following the same exercise.  Additionally, the massaged muscles showed no signs of torn muscle fibers, as compared to the rested only muscles, which did have muscle fiber damage.  The absence of muscle fiber damage is significant because the body must expend energy to repair torn fibers.  The massaged muscles also weighed 8% less than the rested only muscles, indictaing that there was less swelling in the massaged muscles.  The researchers concluded that the study raises questions about the role of inflammation in muscle repair, and the effect of massage on inflammation; does massage decrease inflammation thereby improving recovery?  Future studies on human subjects will look at the biological effects of massage  on muscle recovery.

Read more about the study here:


 Popular Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin Reports New Study Reveals Massage Could Fight Inflammation

 The Doctors Health Press, a publisher of various natural health newsletters, books and reports, including the popular online Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin, is reporting that a new study shows that massage could help ease inflammation.

 Boston, MA (PRWEB) February 23, 2012

 The Doctors Health Press, a publisher of various natural health newsletters, books and reports, including the popular online Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin, is reporting that a new study shows that massage could help ease inflammation.

 As reported in Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin on Friday, February 17, 2012 (, researchers found that, on a cellular level, massage lessens inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria in skeletal muscle. Mitochondria are the energy center of every cell in the body. The research appears online in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

 The study involved the analysis of muscle biopsies taken from the quadriceps of 11 young men who had exercised vigorously on a stationary bicycle. One of each participant’s legs was randomly chosen to be massaged. Biopsies were taken from both legs prior to the exercise, immediately after 10 minutes of massage treatment and after a 2.5-hour period of recovery.

 According to the Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin article, the results indicated that massage dampened the expression of inflammatory chemicals in the muscle cells and strengthened mitochondria. The reduced pain associated with massage may involve the same mechanism as targeted by conventional anti-inflammatory drugs.

 About 18 million individuals undergo massage therapy annually in the U.S., reports Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin, making it the fifth most widely used form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Despite several reports that long-term massage therapy could reduce chronic pain and improve range of motion, the biological effects of massage on skeletal tissue have remained unclear.

 According to the Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin article, a 2008 review of 13 clinical trials found evidence that massage might be useful for chronic low-back pain. Clinical practice guidelines issued in 2007 by the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians recommend that physicians consider using certain CAM therapies, including massage (as well as acupuncture, chiropractic, progressive relaxation, and yoga), when patients with chronic low-back pain do not respond to conventional treatment.

 (SOURCE: Crane, J., et al., "Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage," Sci. Transl. Med., Feb. 1, 2012; 4: 119ra13.)

 Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin is a daily e-letter providing natural health news with a focus on natural healing through foods, herbs and other breakthrough health alternative treatments. For more information on Doctors Health Press, visit

 Victor Marchione, MD is the Chairman of the Doctors Health Press Editorial Board. He is also the editor of The Food Doctor and has released a new video revealing 12 fighting foods to help virtually all of your current health problems. To see the video, visit

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Research Shows Massage Offers Relief for Patients with Nonspecific Low Back Pain

For those of us suffering from chronic low back pain, researchers have good news: massage therapy works and the benefits last for six months. Patients who have nonspecific, chronic pain in the lower back can get relief regardless of the type of massage (relaxation or structural), according to the Group Health Research Institute, in Seattle.

 In a study of 401 patients, published in Annals of Internal Medicine in July, researchers randomly assigned patients with chronic low back pain to receive either one-hour of relaxation or structural massage once a week for 10 weeks or usual medical care without massage. The researchers re-evaluated patients’ symptoms and their ability to perform daily activities after 10 weeks, six months, and one year.

 For relaxation massage, therapists use a combination of kneading, rolling, vibrational, percussive, and tapping movements on patients’ backs, arms, and legs for general relaxation, dissolution of scar tissue, and improved circulation, said the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP), in Golden, Colorado. For structural massage, therapists apply gentle, sustained pressure to release painful trigger points, strengthen injured tissue, and facilitate blood flow and range of motion, said ABMP, which represents 77,000 massage professionals. Both methods are effective for releasing chronic muscle tension and pain.

 For the study, researchers evaluated the symptoms of patients whose pain was nonspecific, which means there is no clear diagnosis. The researchers found that individuals getting massage had less pain and could perform activities more easily after 10 weeks of treatment than those who received usual care without massage. At six months, patients who received both types of massage were functioning significantly better than they were at the beginning of the trial and spent fewer days in bed, were more active, and used less anti-inflammatory medication than did those getting usual care, the researchers reported. After one year, the benefits of massage were no longer significant.

 “This research shows that there are more options beyond the usual ones typically recommended for nonspecific back pain, such as spinal manipulation, acupuncture, yoga, and medication,” commented Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD, a senior investigator at the institute. “Each one is helpful for some people but no treatment is effective for everyone.”

 The researchers were unsure why massage was effective. “One reason could be that getting a massage simply breaks the cycle of pain,” Cherkin said. “Another is that massage relaxes your muscles which gives you some pain relief and that changes your whole frame of thinking from being totally at the mercy of the pain.”

 Connect the Dots

For more information about chronic low back pain, visit Medline Plus Medline Plus. For a list of treatment options, go to WebMD WebMD. To hear Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD, a senior investigator at the Group Health Research Institute, discuss the study findings, see the video the video on the institute’s Web site.