No one wants to be overweight, have diabetes or grow old prematurely. Well, a new study shows that there's a simple strategy that may help prevent all three that is actually quite fun and relaxing.
A massage might do the trick!
We're not talking about an expensive, hour-long massage, either-recent research shows that an inexpensive massage lasting just 10 minutes can be beneficial.
Stop the Damage
Mark Tarnopolsky, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine and head of neuromuscular and neurometabolic disease at McMaster University in Canada, explained that the researchers in this specific massage study found two very interesting differences in muscles that had been massaged after exercise...
A gene pathway that causes muscle inflammation was "dialed down" in these muscles both immediately after the massage and 2 5 hours after the massage. (Specific genes can be present in our tissues but not always actives.) Dr. Tarnopolsky said that this is helpful knowledge because muscle inflammation is a contributor to delayed-onset muscle soreness, so it confirms biologically what we've always believed through anecdotal observation-a post-exercise massage can help relieve muscle soreness.
Conversely, another sort of gene was "turned on" by the massage-this is a gene that increases the activity of mitochondria in muscle cells. Mitochondria are considered the "power packs" of our muscles for their role in creating usable energy. Better mitochondrial functioning has been shown by other studies to help decrease insulin resistance (a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes) and obesity and even to slow aging. When Dr. Tarnopolsky was asked about whether it's a stretch to link post-exercise massage to these benefits, he said that it's not unreasonable-there is a potential connection, and future research will need to be done to confirm it.
Treat Yourself To Massage
The massage type that Dr. Tarnopolsky and his colleagues used was a standard combination of three techniques that are commonly used for post-exercise massage-effleurage (light stroking)... petrissage (firm compression and release)... and stripping (repeated longitudinal strokes). It's easy to find massage therapists in spas, salons, fitness centers and private practices who use these techniques. Or you could ask your spouse or a friend to try some of these moves on you (even if his or her technique isn't perfect) because there's a chance that it could provide the benefits, said Dr. Tarnopolsky-he just can't say for sure, since that wasn't studied.
Dr. Tarnopolsky studied massage only after exercise, so that's when he would recommend getting one, but it's possible that massaging any muscles at any time may have similar benefits-more research will need to be done to find out.
Remember, you don't have to break the bank on a prolonged 60-minute massage-a simple 10- or 20-minute rubdown (which usually costs $10 to $40) can do the trick