Researchers are learning how massage soothes aching muscles.

A massage after vigorous exercise unquestionably feels good, and it seems to reduce pain and help muscles recover. Many people—both athletes and health professionals–have long contended it eases inflammation, improves blood flow and reduces muscle tightness. But until now no one has understood why massage has this apparently beneficial effect.

Now researchers have found what happens to muscles when a masseur goes to work on them …

… They found that massage reduced the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation. Massage also stimulated mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair.

The New York Times, New York, New York, Feb. 6, 2012

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