After a particularly rough week, a massage sounds like the perfect way to de-stress. Until recently, this has only been regarded as a relaxation technique—a luxury for those who want to be pampered. Now, however, a new study published in the journal Special Translational Medicine is quickly changing that belief. According to researchers at the McMaster University in Canada, having a massage activates certain genes in your body that can reduce muscle inflammation.

In the study, 11 young men participated in an intense workout, cycling on stationary bikes until they were exhausted. Afterward, they underwent a 10-minute Swedish massage on one leg, leaving the other to serve as a control specimen. To monitor any changes, the men also had biopsies taken from their leg before and after the exercise as well as two and a half hours later.

The results were astounding. Researchers found out that massages can to reverse the distress your body feels after exercise. They more or less block the activity of the proteins called inflammatory cytokines, which are responsible for inflammation and feelings of pain. Apart from that, it helps you recover your energy quite quickly as well.

So the next time you think about drinking medicine for muscle pain, consider booking yourself an appointment at the nearest spa instead. It’s more relaxing and definitely more rewarding than just popping a pill.

For more on massages, try these:

If you're looking for ways to relax, check these out:

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