What’s the best way to shake out post-exercise stiffness? Deep therapeutic massage!

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Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) describes muscle pain and tenderness that typically develops several hours post-exercise and consists of predominantly unfamiliar muscle actions. High-intensity, functional fitness and athletes experiencing new movements or longer intervals of training can experience these unfamiliar muscle actions that can cause DOMS.

According to the study, Effects of massage on delayed-onset muscle soreness, swelling, and recovery of muscle function, conducted by several doctors published with the Journal of Athletic Training, massage was effective in alleviating DOMS by approximately 30 percent and reduced swelling.

Exercise consisting of predominantly eccentric muscle actions has the potential to cause greater injury to muscles than that involving largely isometric or concentric actions, especially if the exercise is unfamiliar. Muscle pain and tenderness generally develop 24 hours after such exercise and are usually described as DOMS.

Massage is widely used as a therapeutic modality for recovery from muscle fatigue and injury and is probably one of the most popular treatments after sports activities. In line with the positive effect of massage on DOMS, a 30-minute massage, applied 2 hours after eccentric exercise of the elbow flexors and extensors, reduces DOMS. Additional benefits of massage include:

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  • Increased blood flow

  • Increased lymph flow

  • Reduced pain

  • Increased mobility and flexibility

  • Reduced inflammation and stiffness


Source: Zainuddin, Z., Newton, M., Sacco, P., & Nosaka, K. (2005). Effects of massage on delayed-onset muscle soreness, swelling, and recovery of muscle function. Journal of athletic training, 40(3), 174-80. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC125025

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