After conducting a study on mice, the researchers learned that massage is helpful in both shortening recovery time and helping muscles become stronger.
“Lots of people have been trying to study the beneficial effects of massage and other mechanotherapies on the body, but up to this point it hadn’t been done in a systemic, reproducible way,” said researcher Bo Ri Seo, Ph.D. “Our work shows a very clear connection between mechanical stimulation and immune function. This has promise for regenerating a wide variety of tissues including bone, tendon, hair, and skin, and can also be used in patients with diseases that prevent the use of drug-based interventions.”
Reaping the benefits of massage
For the study, the researchers created a device that mimics a massage gun that they could use on mice. The team used the massage gun on the mice’s legs while simultaneously using an ultrasound to determine what the device was doing internally to the muscles.
After using the device on the mice for two weeks straight, the researchers could see how effective the treatment was on the injured muscles. The results showed that using the massage gun was associated with less muscle fiber damage. In fact, the treatment helped a greater area of the muscle fiber heal faster when compared to untreated muscles.
The researchers also learned that when greater pressure was applied on the massage gun, the muscles recovered stronger than before.
How does recovery happen?
The team conducted another experiment to determine why the massage gun was so effective at improving muscle recovery. Ultimately, they learned that applying pressure with the massage gun to inflammatory markers on injured muscles worked to eliminate inflammation.
“While the inflammatory response is important for regeneration in the initial stages of healing, it is equally important that inflammation is quickly resolved to enable the regenerative processes to run its full course,” said researcher Stephanie McNamara.
The next time consumers are experiencing sore or injured muscles, the researchers hope these findings come to mind. They say getting a massage or using a massage gun can help reduce inflammation and speed up the recovery process.
“This provides great motivation for the development of external, mechanical interventions to help accelerate and improve muscles and tissue healing that have the potential to be rapidly translated to the clinic,” said researcher Conor Walsh, Ph.D.