Massage therapy has long been associated with multiple benefits but has not been widely substantiated by scientific data, causing many to be skeptical about this form of therapy. It is indeed heartening to note that the results of a recent clinical trial which was published in the medical journal Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation may just provide the needed validation of these benefits.
Massage Therapy Improves Blood Flow and Relief of Muscle Soreness
Massage therapy has been found to greatly improve overall blood flow and to alleviate muscle soreness after an exercise. The study was also able to show that massage therapy may improve the vascular function of an individual. More than this, it was further concluded that these heart-related benefits may extend to people who have not been physically active.
Findings Based on Large-Scale Clinical Trial
These positive results were arrived at based on a clinical trial carried out by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Led by Shane Phillips, an associate professor of physical therapy, the research team carried out this study with the objective of determining if massage therapy would improve the systemic circulation and reduce muscle soreness after an exercise. In addition, the clinical trial also set out to find other beneficial effects of massage therapy. Prior to the start of the study, the research team acknowledged that there have been claims of benefits from massage therapy but these have been based on minimal data.
For the actual clinical research, healthy but sedentary adults were asked to engage in exercises to the point of muscle soreness, with the use of the standard leg press machine. Half of the study participants were then given massage therapy after the exercise using the conventional Swedish massage techniques. The remaining 50 percent of the group did not receive any massage and served as the control group. All the participants were asked to rate their muscle soreness based on a scale of 1 to 10.
No Muscle Soreness after Massage Therapy
Those who were given massage therapy after the exercises reported that there was no muscle soreness 90 minutes after the therapy. On the other hand, those who had exercises only experienced muscle soreness for 24 hours after the exercise. Those on the exercise and massage group were also found to have improved blood flow using the brachial artery flow mediated dilation (FMD), a standard measure of general vascular health.
Significance of Study
The results of this study are very significant since it substantiates claims of benefits derived from massage therapy. It shows that massage therapy does not just relieve tension and offer relaxation, but may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. More encouraging is the outcome that these benefits may also include people who have led a sedentary life but without medical issues.