Study says massage helps post-workout recovery; get one with a foam roller

foam roller massage


By Briana Rognlin for

You probably don’t need a study to make you want a massage, but researchers have verified that massage helps reduce inflammation after a strenuous workout, proving that it’s not just an indulgence. It’s necessary.

But…as much as we’d all like to visit spas more often, weekly or even monthly massage is pretty much out of the question for a lot of people thanks to lack of time, money, or both. This is where my favorite fitness gadget comes in handy: The foam roller, otherwise known as “the poor woman’s massage.”

The study, published in this month’s Science Translational Medicine, measured muscle recovery through thigh muscle biopsies in 11 young men who rode a stationary bike to the point of exhaustion. They randomly chose one leg to massage, and took biopsies before exercise, 10 minutes after massage and two and a half hours after recovery. They analyzed the genes in the muscles and, according to Simon Melov, PhD, results showed that the biopsies taken from massaged muscles showed less inflammation and better recovery than non-massaged muscles:

“Our research showed that massage dampened the expression of inflammatory cytokines in the muscle cells and promoted biogenesis of mitochondria, which are the energy-producing units in the cells,” said Melov. He added that the pain reduction associated with massage may involve the same mechanism as those targeted by conventional anti-inflammatory drugs. “There’s general agreement that massage feels good, now we have a scientific basis for the experience.”

But massage is still expensive and time-consuming, which is where foam rollers come in.

Keep reading for detailed instructions on how to use a foam roller…

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