The easy answer is, of course, yes.  But why?  Massage therapists, personal trainers and chiropractors have stated forever that massage helps to “wash out” lactic acid produced during a workout and this will help reduce soreness from competition or exercise.  Turns out, this isn’t exactly true.

Actually, in this particular study, the levels of lactic acid went up after massage while, at the same time, blood flow was reduced in the muscle region being treated.  This just continues to sound like the opposite of what has always been promoted under the health benefits of massage.  So what did the researchers find?

Overall, massage sent chemical signals into the cells of the muscles (for those technical junkies… it activated the mechanotransduction signaling pathways focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2).  This resulted in two powerful effects.

First, it lowered the production of inflammation in the injured / exercised muscle.  Imagine this–forget taking anything like ibuprofen or Tylenol or Alieve because you worked out too hard–just call our office for an appointment instead!  Not only do you avoid derailing the healing process with over the counter drugs, but you will actually lower the damage that would have otherwise occurred from the exertion.  Pretty neat.

Second, and even more astounding, massage (via the signalling pathway noted above) actually increased the number of mitochondria!  For those of you who are new readers, you may be scratching your head trying to remember what Ms. Pendleton had said about mitochondria in your high school biology class 30 years ago.  Regular readers, however, will understand that the mitchondria are the holy grail of good health.  The more mitochondria we have and the better they function, the less likely we are to get any disease.  Period.

Could this mechanism be one of the reasons we see some of the benefits of massage and improvements in chronic pain patients, patients with fatigue or fibromyalgia patients?  Could massage actually lower your risk of diabetes by improving mitochondrial function??  Stay tuned…

In the meantime, if you are local and have a strong desire to increase your own mitochondrial function, sign up for our massage club today and start improving your health.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.