I must admit that I enjoy massage and try to get some work done on my back every couple of weeks either by Colin Gordon at the Edinburgh Physiotherapy Centre or Sheena Livinstone out in West Linton. Both use massage plus Muscle Energy Therapy (MET) to loosen up the tight muscles that plague me, especially my psoas.
While I think a huge amount of back pain is due to stress - I have a lot of sympathy for the teachings of Dr John Sarno - massage can certainly loosen up a tightened muscle.
I spotted this study which sort of bemused me. It notes that massage is relaxing. While that is true, in my experience it is much more than that. It can address specific muscle imbalances, when the length / tension relationships get messed up.
Effects of myofascial release after high-intensity exercise: a randomized clinical trial.
OBJECTIVE: The usefulness of massage as a recovery method after high-intensity exercise has yet to be established. We aimed to investigate the effects of whole-body massage on heart rate variability (HRV) and blood pressure (BP) after repeated high-intensity cycling exercise under controlled and standardized pretest conditions. METHODS: The study included 62 healthy active individuals. After baseline measurements, the subjects performed standardized warm-up exercises followed by three 30-second Wingate tests. After completing the exercise protocol, the subjects were randomly assigned to a massage (myofascial release) or placebo (sham treatment with disconnected ultrasound and magnetotherapy equipment) group for a 40-minute recovery period. Holter recording and BP measurements were taken after exercise protocol and after the intervention. RESULTS: After the exercise protocol, both groups showed a significant decrease in normal-to-normal interval, HRV index, diastolic BP (P > .001), and low-frequency domain values (P = .006). After the recovery period, HRV index (P = .42) and high-frequency (HF) (P = .94) values were similar to baseline levels in the massage group, whereas the HRV index tended (P = .05) to be lower and the HF was significantly (P < .01) lower vs baseline values in the placebo group, which also showed a tendency (P = .06) for HF to be lower than after the exercise. Likewise, diastolic BP returned to baseline levels in the massage group (P = .45) but remained lower in the placebo group (P = .02). CONCLUSION: Myofascial release massage favors the recovery of HRV and diastolic BP after high-intensity exercise (3 Wingate tests) to preexercise levels.