A widely-reported study finally traces the mechanism by which massage therapy reduces pain and promotes healing:
They found that massage reduced the production of compounds called cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation. Massage also stimulated mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair. “The bottom line is that there appears to be a suppression of pathways in inflammation and an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis,” helping the muscle adapt to the demands of increased exercise, said the senior author, Dr. Mark A. Tarnopolsky.
When you reflect on the fact that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen not only retard healing, but have been linked to severe gastrointestinal disorders, renal problems, heart attack, stroke, erectile dysfuntion, and other side effects including death, your cost-benefit analysis may be altered. It may be cheaper in the short term to pop a pill for pain relief, but getting regular massage could save a bundle on long-term health care.