Massage increases oxytocin and reduces adrenocorticotropin hormone in humans.
Human beings are highly social creatures who often touch each other during social interactions. Although the physiologic effects of touch are not understood fully, it appears to sustain social bonds and to increase cooperative behaviors. Oxytocin (oxytocin) is a hormone known to facilitate social bonding, and touch may affect oxytocin release. Previous studies seeking to relate massage and oxytocin in humans have been inconsistent in their findings.
Researchers from University of California San Diego Medical Center examined the effect of massage on oxytocin and also measured its effect on other physiologic factors, including adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH), nitric oxide (NO), and beta-endorphin (BE). The results were published in Altern Ther Health Med. Journal 2012 Nov-Dec.
The research team advertised that the trial would study relaxation and assigned participants randomly to the intervention or the control group. A lab administrator assigned a random numeric code to participants to mask their identities. The study took place at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, CA.
Ninety-five people from UCLA gave written informed consent for participation in the study, with the team paying them to participate. The intervention group included 65 participants and the control group 30 participants. For the intervention (massage) group, the research team drew participants' blood and followed the blood draw with 15 minutes of moderate-pressure massage of the upper back. The control (rest) group rested quietly for 15 minutes after the blood draw. A second blood draw followed for both groups.
The research team assayed oxytocin, ACTH, NO, and BE. The team used four survey instruments to examine the relationship between personality factors and the physiologic measures of interest.
The resulys showed that massage was associated with an increase in oxytocin and reductions in ACTH, NO, and BE. Comparing the effects of massage for the massage group with those for the rest group, the research team found significant differences between groups for changes in oxytocin, ACTH, NO, and BE.
The authors concluded that this study is the first using a large sample of mixed gender that demonstrates that massage increases oxytocin and decreases ACTH, NO, and BE. These findings may help explain the mechanisms through which social connections reduce morbidity and mortality.
Stem cells, angiogenesis and muscle healing: a potential role in massage therapies?
Skeletal muscle injuries are among the most common and frequently disabling injuries sustained by athletes. Repair of injured skeletal muscle is an area that continues to present a challenge for sports medicine clinicians and researchers due, in part, to complete muscle recovery being compromised by development of fibrosis leading to loss of function and susceptibility to re-injury. Injured skeletal muscle goes through a series of coordinated and interrelated phases of healing including degeneration, inflammation, regeneration and fibrosis. Muscle regeneration initiated shortly after injury can be limited by fibrosis which affects the degree of recovery and predisposes the muscle to reinjury.
Researchers from Ohio State University addressed in an article published in British Journal of Sports Medicine published in Novermber 2012, the potential role of massage therapy in muscle healing.
Based on animal studies, they demonstrated that antifibrotic agents that inactivate transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 have been effective at decreasing scar tissue formation. Several studies have also shown that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) can increase the efficiency of skeletal muscle repair by increasing angiogenesis and, at the same time, reducing the accumulation of fibrosis.
The researchers have isolated and thoroughly characterised a population of skeletal muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs) that enhance repair of damaged skeletal muscle fibres by directly differentiating into myofibres and secreting paracrine factors that promote tissue repair. Indeed, we have found that MDSCs transplanted into skeletal and cardiac muscles have been successful at repair probably because of their ability to secrete VEGF that works in a paracrine fashion. The application of these techniques to the study of sport-related muscle injuries awaits investigation.
Other useful strategies to enhance skeletal muscle repair through increased vascularisation may include gene therapy, exercise, neuromuscular electrical stimulation and, potentially, massage therapy. Based on recent studies showing an accelerated recovery of muscle function from intense eccentric exercise through massage-based therapies, the researchers believe that this treatment modality offers a practical and non-invasive form of therapy for skeletal muscle injuries. However, the biological mechanism(s) behind the beneficial effect of massage are still unclear and require further investigation using animal models and potentially randomised, human clinical studies.
Massage Timing Affects Postexercise Muscle Recovery and Inflammation
Researchers from Ohio State University, Columbus, conducted a study comparing the effect of immediate versus delayed massage-like compressive loading on peak isometric torque recovery and inflammatory cell infiltration following eccentric exercise . To do that they performed the treatment on rabbits.
Eighteen skeletally mature New Zealand White rabbits were instrumented with peroneal nerve cuffs for stimulation of hindlimb tibialis anterior muscles. Following a bout of eccentric exercise, rabbits were randomly assigned to a massage-like compression protocol (0.5Hz, 10N, 15min) started immediately post-eccentric exercise, 48 hours post-EXX, or no-massage-like compression control and performed for four consecutive days. A torque-angle relationship was obtained for 21 joint angles pre and post-eccentric exercise and post four consecutive days of massage-like compression or no-massage-like compression. Muscle wet weights and immunohistochemical sections were obtained following final treatments.
The results showed that eccentric exercise produced an average 51% (±13%) decrease in peak isometric torque output. Greatest peak torque recovery occurred with immediate application of massage-like compression. There were differences in torque recovery between immediate and delayed massage-like compression, immediate massage-like compression and control, and delayed massage-like compression and control.
Immunohistochemical analysis showed 39.3% and 366.0% differences in the number of RPN3/57 and CD11b positive cells between immediate and delayed massage-like compression .
The authors concluded that post-eccentric exercise, immediate massage-like compression was more beneficial than delayed massage-like compression in restoring muscle function and modulating inflammatory cell infiltration. These findings invite similar human studies in order to make definitive conclusions on optimal timing of massage-based therapies.
Stretching and deep and superficial massage do not influence blood lactate levels after heavy-intensity cycle exercise.
While this is now well known in massage therapy, researcher from University of Milan , Italy, conducted a study aimed to assess the role of deep and superficial massage and passive stretching recovery on blood lactate concentration kinetics after a fatiguing exercise compared to active and passive recovery.
Nine participants (age 23 ± 1 years; stature 1.76 ± 0.02 m; body mass 74 ± 4 kg) performed on five occasions an 8-min fatiguing exercise at 90% of maximum oxygen uptake, followed by five different 10-min interventions in random order: passive and active recovery, deep and superficial massage and stretching. Interventions were followed by 1 hour of recovery. Throughout each session, maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) of the knee extensor muscles, blood lactate concentration, cardiorespiratory and metabolic variables were determined. Electromyographic signal (EMG) from the quadriceps muscles was also recorded. At the end of the fatiguing exercise, blood lactate concentration, MVC, EMG amplitude, and metabolic and cardiorespiratory parameters were similar among conditions.
During intervention administration, blood lactate concentration was lower and metabolic and cardiorespiratory parameters were higher in active recovery compared to the other modalities. Stretching and deep and superficial massage did not alter blood lactate concentration kinetics compared to passive recovery. These findings indicate that the pressure exerted during massage administration and stretching manoeuvres did not play a significant role on post-exercise blood Lactate levels.
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