Massage therapy is commonly used during physical rehabilitation of skeletal muscle to ameliorate pain and promote recovery from injury. Although there is evidence that massage may relieve pain in injured muscle, how massage affects cellular function remains unknown. To assess the effects of massage, we administered either massage therapy or no treatment to separate quadriceps of 11 young male participants after exercise-induced muscle damage. Muscle biopsies were acquired from the quadriceps (vastus lateralis) at baseline, immediately after 10 min of massage treatment, and after a 2.5-hour period of recovery. We found that massage activated the mechanotransduction signaling pathways focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), potentiated mitochondrial biogenesis signaling [nuclear peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α)], and mitigated the rise in nuclear factor κB (NFκB) (p65) nuclear accumulation caused by exercise-induced muscle trauma. Moreover, despite having no effect on muscle metabolites (glycogen, lactate), massage attenuated the production of the inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor–α (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) and reduced heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) phosphorylation, thereby mitigating cellular stress resulting from myofiber injury. In summary, when administered to skeletal muscle that has been acutely damaged through exercise, massage therapy appears to be clinically beneficial by reducing inflammation and promoting mitochondrial biogenesis.
Monday, February 06, 2012
Massage therapy suppresses expression of inflammatory genes after exercise..
I've been getting regular deep tissue structural massage for years, and continue to be amazed at how good it makes me feel. This report from Tarnopolsky and colleagues explains at least part of the reason why. They profiled the expression of genes involved in both inflammatory pathways and in pathways that regenerate energy generating mitochondria in the leg muscles of eleven young men after very strenuous leg exercise, with one leg being massaged after the exercise. The massaged legs had 30% more PGC-1alpha, a gene that helps muscle cells build mitochondria. They also had three times less NFkB, which turns on genes associated with inflammation. (The study found no evidence to support often-repeated claims that massage removes lactic acid, a byproduct of exertion long blamed for muscle soreness, or waste products from tired muscles.) Here is the detailed abstract: