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Instant Massage Does Heal Damaged Muscle

Update Date: Jul 04, 2012 08:53 AM EDT

It is an old wisdom that a massage immediately after a muscle injury, helps it heal faster. But there is no specific number of days, length of time and pressure of a massage known, that relieves pain.

A latest study on rabbits reveals for the first time, the measurable effects of massage-like pressure on the recovery of muscle fiber damage.

The researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center say, that the findings could eventually lead to specific prescriptions for massage to help exercise-induced muscle injury in athletes according to Health Day.

For the study, the researchers studied 24 white rabbits to determine the massage pressure, duration and time needed to improve healing following a muscle injury. The researchers used a device that mimics the movements like exercise, and another device that mimics massaging motion. Different frequencies of massage, pressure and duration was given to the animals in order to determine which worked the best on the muscles.

"We have translated what we thought was going on in humans, largely based on self-reporting, into the laboratory and designed the instrumentation to apply controllable and measurable forces," Dr. Thomas Best, co-director of OSU Sports Medicine, said in a university news release.

Dr. Best and his team worked with Yi Zhao, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Ohio State, who created the mechanical devices that mimicked the massaging motion, reported

"We found if damaged muscle is massaged right away -- for 15 minutes -- there is a 20 to 40 percent chance of recovery. Initial injury in the animal model was extended if massage did not take place within 24 hours," Best explained in the news release.

Although the research results seem promising, not all studies involving animals prove beneficial for humans. However, the study authors say that the findings could provide potential guidelines for future clinical trials.

"We're excited about the clinical implications of this research," said Best. "After testing in humans, we'll potentially be able to prescribe specifics for massage to help exercise-induced muscle injury in athletes."

The study was published online this week in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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