A small study of 11 young men measured the effectiveness of massage in treating inflammation in muscles and boosting athletic recovery. The men rode stationary bikes to the point of physical exhaustion. Afterwards, each participant received a 10 minute Swedish massage on one leg.
Biopsies taken after the activity revealed that massage decreased the activity of proteins that cause inflammation and pain and helped spur the production of proteins that help muscles recover from activity. At the end of the day massage had the same pain-relieving effect as over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like Tylenol, which also reduce pain by preventing inflammation.
Study leaders hope this study, and others like it, will help dismiss criticisms of massage as an “alternative” medical treatment.
Source: Healthland “How Massage Helps Heal Muscles and Relieve Pain”