Is massage really helpful?

The Issue:

Massage is a popular method for relaxing and fatigue recovery around the world. Most people find that massage is comfortable and enjoyable, but why and how is it beneficial to your body? The idea behind massage is “myofasical release”, which is often used as a alternative medicine thearpy for myofascial pain. To understand how it works; first of all, we need to know what fasica is. Fasica is a tissue surround and  support muscle throughout the body[1]. Since the thread of fasica is connected and tightened, when the body get injured at one spot, the effect spreads to other place of the body. Thus sometimes patients experience pain at one spot, but the pain originates from other spot in the body. When one spot in the body get injured, the body react to protect the itself by reduce blood flow and contract muscle around that injured area. However, the initial good thing can create pain because more reduced blood contracted muscle at the restricted area. The myofasical release therapy which in form of various type of massage is focus on smoothing out the contracted area, and let fasica tissue return to its original flexible fluid self[2]. However, there are also voice claims that myofasical release therapy lack of evidence and is a quackery. So will myofasical like massage really help patients release myofasical pain? let’s check some research result and find out.

Figure 1: this picture shows where the fascia is.


Scientific evidence:

The first article, “Modeled Osteopathic Manipulative Treatments: A Review of their in Vitro Effects on Fibroblast Tissue Preparations.” published by The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (JAOA) suggests the possibility of myofasical release (MFR) aiding in the strengthening of the area. The research look into the magnitude and duration of the MFR therapy in order to find out the effectiveness of MFR therapy. Researchers hold strain magnitude constant at 6% and try different magnitude (3%, 6%, 9%, and 12%) and duration(0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 minutes) of MFR. The result suggests production of extracellular matrix proteins such as collagen may be up regulated with  greater-magnitude (12%) treatment.

Another article “Effects of myofascial release techniques on pain, physical function, and postural stability in patients with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial” also support the evidence that myofascial release make a positive effect on fibromyalgia syndrome like pain, postural stability and physical function by comparing random assigned experimental group and a placebo group. After 20 weeks of myofasical therapy, there is a great improvement in painful tender points, McGill Pain Score, physical function, and clinical severity. Also, according to the six month late post intervention, the experimental group had a significant lower mean number of painful points, pain score, physcial function, and clinical severity. One limitation of this research is the lack of postural stability text with a higher level of difficulty, another limitation is that the therapist who administered both intervention protocols and the patients themselves could not be blinded.



According to the research above, it seems MFR therapy has a positive effect on myofasial pain. The MFR itself is safe and does not have side effect. Thus, lots of people might consider it as a alternative therapy especially those who don’t want surgery. Both research offer scientific evidence to support the benefits of MFR therapy. However, there also could be limitation for those research so they could also sometimes be inaccurate. Overall, MFR therapy is recommended since it does not have side effect, and it is indeed a comfortable method to relax.



Exercise and Save Money: Turning Exercise Work to Electricity



Cycling is a type of popular cardio exercise that can be widely seen in gym, home, and outdoor. This exercise allows exerciser to expend energy by rotating feet around the center of flywheel. Generally, the work done by exerciser just transfer to heat and lost in the air, but can we store the energy and utilize it for our daily life? The answer is yes. In article These Exercise Machines Turn Your Sweat Into Electricity fromIEEE spectrum, it states that Harr, a 21 year old mechanical engineering graduates of University of Florida developed that energy conservation device [1]. By converting workout energy to electricity, electrical bill can be reduced. At the same time, it encourages people to do more exercise to achieve a healthier life. In order to make a real cycling machine to meet this demand, engineers need to identify, formulate, and solve problems. For example, a question would be how long the crank arm of  the cycling machine should be in order to generate 6000 Joules energy in a hour (100watts) ? This question need to be solved because it makes more sense if the machine can generate noticeable amount of energy. The unknown is the crank arm length, and variables are rotating speed of exerciser and exercise duration, which can be assumed as 0.5 m/s and 1 hour, and the work expected is 6000 joules. By solving this problem, engineers would be able to design the machine with proper crank arm length.

Figure 1[2]This picture express someone is recycling workout energy to lighten bulbs.



Figure 2. This hand drawing express the flywheel and crankarm park on a normal bike.

Assumptions and Simplification:

(1) The weight of the exerciser’s feet is 1kg (Assume 70kg*1.45%*2)[3]

(2) exerciser’s feet are rotating in a constant speed of  0.5 m/s

(3) The generated energy expected in 1 hour is 6000J (100 watts)


The problem is to solve the length of the crank arm of this cycling machine (the radius of this circular motion).


Equations for circular motion and work: 


Since we expect work done is 6000 Joules in a hour, and distance is 0.5 m/s *  3600 s = 1800m,

F = W/d = 3.3 N

F = 3.3 N = (mv^2)/r = (1kg*1m^2)/r

=> r= 1kg*m^2/3.3 N = 0.3 m

Thus, as assumptions made above, the radius of the crank arm of the cycling machine should be about 30 cm, which is realistic.

The variables like feet weight (directly related to force applied on pedal), and rotating velocity can be various for different user. Thus the energy generate can be different for different user too. Generally, more force input the exerciser do, the more the energy generated, and faster the exerciser rotate their feet, the more the energy generated.

One major limitation need to be concerned for this design is that the energy generated won’t be 100% converted to electricity. Thus there is more problems need to be solve to make the conversion more efficient.

Overall, the length of the crank arm of the cycling machine should be about 30 cm in order to generate 6000 joules per hour (100 watts). The solved length is a reasonable value. The energy generated for a single cycling machine might not be a lot, but it can be a more significant number if the system is utilize by gym on multiple cycling machines.

Path forward: instead of a in home exercise device, it can be further designed as a portable energy conservation system attached to a real bike that cycling work can be conserved into battery. In addition, not only cycling machine, the energy recycling system can be applied on other type exercise machines with similar mechanism.

More to read:

Could We Use Exercise Machines As Energy Sources? 

In the Gym: Clean Energy From Muscle Power

These Exercise Machines Turn Your Sweat Into Electricity

Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Measuring Watch

Patent title: Blood pressure and heart rate measuring watch

Patent number: US06084961

Patent filing date: 1979-10-15

Patent issue date: 1982-05-25

Inventor(s):Ronald L. Broadwater Russell R. Haynes Samah A. Mitry

Assignee (if applicable): TECH ENGR AND DESIGN

U.S. classification:  G04G21/025

Claims: 16

Figure 1. This figure shows the watch itself and the sensor on the watch band part.


This invention is a portable blood pressure and heart rate monitoring device that is in a wrist watch format. Blood pressure and heart rate signal is measured by the sensor on the watch that attached to wrist when it’s wear by patient. This wrist can measure systolic and diastolic pressure and heart accurately and quickly, as well as tell time. In addition, with this compact format, patient can wear it in many circumstances and operate it without lots of professional knowledge.

People who like to do exercise and elder people might be interested in this invention.  people who do exercise often might want to know there heart rate in order to control their heart rate in a certain range, so that their exercise effect can be the most ideal for them. For elder people who potentially or actually have heart problems, a portable heart rate and blood pressure monitor like this invention would be ideal for them to monitor their heart condition, so that they can find treatment before the condition become worse.

In order to achieve the monitoring function, a piezoelectric transducer is placed on the watch band. when patient wear it, the transducer attach the radial artery,and it will generate electrical pressure impulse which correspond to the magnitude of blood pressure. The highest impulse is recognized as systolic impulse, and the lowest impulse is recognized as diastolic impulse. Also, a time counter is employed to measure the heart rate. There are also some prior art of this type health monitor. For example, US. Pat. No. 3’807’388. with this device, heart rate is measured by counting heart beat in a known frequency, and the heart beat is then related a particular average heart rate. Since that device does not measure the heart rate directly, it can be somewhat inaccurate.

I choose this patent because smart watch is currently a popular wearable health product, and it’s getting more and more developed. I am surprised that this patent was issued in 1979 which is about 40 years before. It seems this type compact wearable technology is now more commonly accepted by customers. The concept to bring convince of health monitoring from hospital to everyone’s side is a kind of evolution of medical system.