A massage therapist’s business is called a practice—and that terminology could be the key to success.

Whether you are a massage therapist, an athlete, a musician or a stroke patient learning to walk again, practice can make perfect, but more practice may make you more efficient, according to a University of Colorado Boulder press release.

The study, led by CU-Boulder Assistant Professor Alaa Ahmed, looked at how test subjects learned particular arm-reaching movements using a robotic arm. The results showed that even after a reaching task had been learned and the corresponding decrease in muscle activity had reached a stable state, the overall energy costs to the test subjects continued to decrease, according to the press release.

By the end of the task, the net metabolic cost as measured by oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide exhalation had decreased by about 20 percent, she said.

“The message from this study is that in order to perform with less effort, keep on practicing, even after it seems as if the task has been learned,” said Ahmed, of CU-Boulder’s integrative physiology department. “We have shown there is an advantage to continued practice beyond any visible changes in performance.”

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