Researchers at McMaster University in Canada found that massage affects the activity of certain genes, directly reducing inflammation in muscles — the same result you’d get by taking aspirin or ibuprofen — and boosting their ability to recover from exercise.
Researchers also found that massage sets off a series of molecular events in muscles that helped reverse discomfort related to exercise. Massage dampened the activity of proteins known as inflammatory cytokines, which cause inflammation and pain. It also increased levels of proteins that signal the muscles to produce more mitochondria, the cell structures that produce energy and help muscles recover from activity.
The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.