THE PAIN RELIEVING BENEFITS OF MASSAGE ARE IDENTIFIED AND EXPLAINED by Markham Heid in an Elemental article offered on medium.com. For everyday exercisers, alleviating small aches and nagging discomforts with relatively inexpensive home remedies can mean that we are able to continue with physical activities that help maintain health and provide enjoyment.
Heid’s referenced expert, Dr. Tiffany Field, summarizes the ‘gate control theory’ by which activation of pressure receptors in the skin is thought to block perception of pain by the brain. The author then discusses how self-applied techniques like foam rolling and tennis ball skin massage can make frequent massage therapy sessions cost-effective and practical.
The article addresses the belief, not yet fully investigated by science, that massage by someone other than oneself is more beneficial. Heid’s expert says “self-massage may be just as effective.”
Thinking back to the times when I was forced to stop running due to knee pain, which I now realize was/is due to osteoarthritis, self-massage helped during my recovery at least temporarily. Earned Runs blog described and posted on this DIY knee massage technique a while back.
After reading the article, “The Science-Backed Benefits of Massage,” I wonder whether my combining daily knee massage with a general whole-body foam rolling session might have led to greater relief. The surprising bit of information Heid provided about Field’s and others’ research in this area is that findings “indicate that there’s a central nervous system component to the rolling-induced drops in pain”. As evidence, improvements in pain and soreness were noted from foam rolling parts of the body that “weren’t in pain.”
Markham Heid’s article is a quick read and may convince some to proactively incorporate foam rolling and self-massage into regular ‘maintenance’ sessions to help soothe physical discomfort arising from athletic efforts, as well as other chronic conditions like cancer and autoimmune diseases. It also seems that mental anguish might be diminished and immunity boosted by massage.
There’s much more interesting science in his piece than related in this blog post! The encouraging news is that performing it yourself may be as effective as a costly professional service.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Earned Runs blog post on DIY knee massage
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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