Do you experience sore, aching muscles after a workout? Known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), this all-too-common phenomenon is the result of the small tears forming in the muscle tissue. When you perform vigorous strength training exercises, near-microscopic tears form in your muscle fibers; thus, triggering the symptoms associated with DOMS. The good news, however, is that massage therapy has proven effective in relieving DOMS.
Before we reveal the therapeutic benefits of massage therapy, let’s first take a step back to discuss DOMS. When you exercise – strength training in particular – you stress your muscles to the point where small, microscopic-sized tears form in the tissue. This is perfectly normal, as your muscles repair themselves so they are bigger and stronger than before.
So, how can massage therapy help to relieve post-workout muscle soreness? It’s not uncommon for muscles to remain in a semi-constricted state after an exercise. This tension can slow down the normal healing process, meaning you’ll feel sore for a longer period of time. Massage therapy, however, can relieve muscle tension, reverting the muscles back to their normal, unconstricted state. A massage therapist will work to knead out tension, improving recovery times while subsequently reducing pain and soreness.
Massage therapy also promotes blood flow throughout the body, which can in turn improve recovery times. Keeping blood flowing to the muscles is essential in the recovery process, as it delivers key nutrients to them. By having your muscles massaged, you can rest assured knowing your muscles are getting the nutrients they need to recover and develop.
A study conducted by researchers at McMaster University, Canada found massage therapy to stimulate certain genes; thus, reducing inflammation while boosting the body’s ability to recover after a workout. For the study, researchers closely monitored 11 young men who engaged in exhaustive aerobic exercise. They found that participants who received massage therapy had lower levels of the inflammatory protein cytokines and more of the protein responsible for creating mitochondria, which are responsible for creating energy and helping the muscles recover from a workout.
Here are some other tips to help relieve post-workout muscle soreness:
- Wait at least 48 hours for your body to heal and recover between strength training workouts.
- Apply a cold compress to sore, aching muscles.
- Increase your intake of protein.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Take a hot shower to soothe aching muscles.