TOUCH POINTS MODALITY HUMAN FACTOR Researchers explore massage therapy as muscle builder An illness, an accident, or even just getting older can limit a person’s capacity for exercise. Rest is an essential component of healing, but it also atrophies muscles. “People who are unable to exercise due to, for example, a recent surgery or illness, lose as much as three per-cent of their muscle mass per week,” said Dr. Esther Dupont-Versteegden of the University of Kentucky’s College of Health Sciences (CHS). “That doesn’t sound like much, but it can make recovery much more diffi-cult, especially for the el-derly.” Dupont-Versteegden and her UK CHS colleague Dr. Tim Butterfield have been testing an inexpensive, non-invasive treatment that appears, in preliminary studies, to aid in the recov-ery of muscle mass and re-duce muscle atrophy: mas-sage therapy. “Don’t run out and get a massage when you read this,” she laughed. “It might make you feel good, but it won’t turn you into a body builder.” Proteins are the basic building blocks of all of the body’s tissues, especially muscle. The complicated metabolic process that turns protein into muscle, called protein synthesis, increases muscle cell size, which in turn strengthens muscle fi-bres. But one of the crucial ingredients for muscle growth is exercise. “However, there are times and circumstances in which exercise is not possible, 6 Massage Therapy Canada Fall 2017 because of a severe illness or surgery, for example” Du-pont-Versteegden said. “Our research proposes that mas-sage may stave off atrophy, even if you aren’t able to get up and move around.” According to Butterfield, it appears that massage mimics the effect of exercise by sending signals to the muscle to begin protein synthesis. But perhaps even more tantalizing: massaging one limb seems to confer benefit to its corresponding muscle on the other side as well. “We’re not sure why yet, but if we could understand the mechanisms for this crossover effect it could have real healing benefits for pa-tients with wounds to one limb – for example, car acci-dent victims or wounded soldiers,” Butterfield said. Their initial work is prom-ising enough to garner a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the National Center for Complementary & Integra-tive Health to further their study in conjunction with Drs. Benjamin Miller and Karyn Hamilton from Col-orado State University. The loss of skeletal muscle mass and the inability to recover from atrophy are major contributors to disa-bility and a major factor in the elderly’s loss of inde-pendence, Dupont-Verstee-gden said. “If we can identify new, cost-effective ways to reduce disability and improve over-all health, that’s an all-around win.” – Newswise WHAT’S ONLINE Trending items on MassageTherapyCanada.com massagetherapycanada.com Illustration: Brian Fray MISSED AN ISSUE? Check out Massage Therapy Canada magazine’s digital edition archive at www.massagetherapycanada.com/ digital. JOB POSTING Whether you’re looking for new opportunities or in search of RMTs to join your team, our online Marketplace section is a great resource.