Massage therapy during early postnatal life promotes greater lean mass and bone growth, mineralization, and strength in juvenile and young adult rats

J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. Oct-Dec 2009;9(4):278-87.


The objects of this study were to investigate the effects of massage therapy during early life on postnatal growth, body composition, and skeletal development in juvenile and young adult rats. Massage therapy was performed for 10 minutes daily from D6 to D10 of postnatal life in rat pups (MT, n=24). Body composition, bone area, mineral content, and bone mineral density were measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA); bone strength and intrinsic stiffness on femur shaft were tested by three-point bending; cortical and cancellous bone histomorphometric measurements were performed at D21 and D60. Results were compared to age- and gender-matched controls (C, n=24). D21 body weight, body length, lean mass, and bone area were significantly greater in the MT cohort. Greater bone mineral content was found in male MT rats; bone strength and intrinsic stiffness were greater in D60 MT groups. At D60 MT treatment promoted bone mineralization by increasing trabecular mineral apposition rate in male and endosteal mineral surface in females, and also improved micro-architecture by greater trabeculae width in males and decreasing trabecular separation in females. In summary, massage therapy during early life elicited immediate and prolonged anabolic effects on postnatal growth, lean mass and skeletal developmental in a gender-specific manner in juvenile and young adult rats.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Bone Development / physiology
  • Female
  • Femur / physiology*
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Organ Size / physiology
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tibia / physiology*