Looking for a Legal Performance Enhancer? Try a Massage

February 21, 2012 | Randi Weitzman

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A massage always feels good after a tension-filled day or an intense workout. Now, Canadian researchers have found that a simple 10-minute massage after a 70-minute workout may have real performance benefits.

In the February issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine, researcher Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, describes a study in which 11 young men exercised to exhaustion, after which only one of each participant's legs was massaged. The researchers took tissue samples from both legs over a period of time. In the massaged muscle tissues, they found a reduction in inflammation and an increase in mitochondria, an energy source that keeps the body going during increased activity.

The study, combined with previous research suggesting that massages can help boost the body's immune system, is helping to change the post-game massage from a feel-good treatment to a legitimate performance enhancer. If a 10-minute massage can help you feel better for the next day and come out stronger in the second half, why not take a few minutes to knead your muscles in the locker room?

Even if you lack access to a professional masseur or masseuse, you can always massage yourself by running your hands along your muscles, looking for knots. Once you find one, simply rub in a circular motion with two of your fingers for a minute or two to release it. Many trainer also recommend foam rolling, both before and after a workout, to loosen muscles and remove toxins. (Read more about foam rollers.)

Treat yourself to a post-activity massage and find out for yourself whether it helps you perform better the next day. Let us know your results on our Facebook page or by tweeting us @STACKMedia.

Photo:  aileenross.com

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