There are any number of causes for leg pain. For leg pain that is caused by overexertion, a massage treatment can very often ease inflammation, improve blood flow and reduce muscle tightness. A recent article in the New York Times reveals some science that supports this supposition.
An experiment was conducted involved 11 young, male volunteers. First, a biopsy of one leg was taken when they were at rest. Then the volunteers were required to spend an hour on a stationary bicycle until exhaustion. Then one leg was massaged and the other left to recover on its own. A biopsy was taken of each leg. Then, a third biopsy was taken after two and a half hours of rest to determine the status of muscle injury and repair.
Vigorous exercise causes inflammation resulting in tiny tears in muscle fibers. The body goes to work repairing those tears. The result of the study showed a marked difference between the massaged leg and the leg that had not been massaged.
It turns out that massage lessens the production of a set of compounds called cytokines that contributes to inflammation. It also stimulates the production of mitochondria which turns glucose into energy necessary for cell repair. In short, a session of massage does help leg muscles recover from the damage done by vigorous exercise.
As a bonus, it looks like massage works better than taking anti-inflammatory drugs which, while they do lessen inflammation, might actually retard the healing process. So with massage one can both alleviate pain but also start treating the underlining cause of the pain.
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