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The Important Relationship
Between Massage, Fitness, and Recovery

How Massage Affects Muscle Recovery and Performance.

The Important Relationship Between Massage, Fitness, and Recovery

How Massage Affects Muscle Recovery and Performance.

Massage & Recovery

If you love getting a good workout in — complete with clothes drenched in sweat and that familiar burning feeling in your muscles — it’s likely you’ve also experienced the not-so-pleasant aftereffects of said workout.

A few good elbows in the back (or 15 minutes with a deep percussive massager) can work some serious magic on post-workout soreness, not to mention leave you with a sense of calm.

As it turns out, those benefits aren’t just anecdotal. Nope: The power of massage therapy is backed by decades of scientific research.

What to Know About Massage

Most people traditionally consider massage to encompass hands-on therapy from a masseuse, complete with dim lighting and meditation music. However, the advent of percussive therapy devices has made massage much more accessible (and less expensive, too). Self-massage brings many of the same benefits as traditional massage, and you can do it without scheduling an appointment and driving to a spa.

How Massage Affects Workout Recovery

What can relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and tame your pain all in an hour or less? Massage therapy.

Whether you prefer traditional massages or like to use a self-massage device, take a moment to learn how massage therapy can help you recover from workouts and why you should add it to your wellness routine.

What to Know About Massage

Most people traditionally consider massage to encompass hands-on therapy from a masseuse, complete with dim lighting and meditation music. However, the advent of percussive therapy devices has made massage much more accessible (and less expensive, too). Self-massage brings many of the same benefits as traditional massage, and you can do it without scheduling an appointment and driving to a spa.

How Massage Affects Workout Recovery

What can relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and tame your pain all in an hour or less? Massage therapy.

Whether you prefer traditional massages or like to use a self-massage device, take a moment to learn how massage therapy can help you recover from workouts and why you should add it to your wellness routine.

Woman in shorts massages her arm with a massage gun outside on a bench in a park

Massage Reduces Soreness and Knots

Muscle knots, sometimes called trigger points, are tightly contracted patches of muscle that become tender to the touch. The most common areas to develop muscle knots are the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Sometimes, muscle knots work themselves out over time, but massage therapy can speed up that process and restore pain-free range of motion.

Any type of traditional massage or self-massage can be helpful in treating trigger points and tenderness.

While there’s no true cure for delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), massage therapy has been linked to reduced severity of soreness and speedier recovery after exercise. What’s more, compared with various other forms of workout recovery, massage was found to be the best way to recover from workouts.

Massage Increases Range of Motion

By manipulating the soft tissue throughout your body, massage therapy can improve your joint range of motion and flexibility. Those who experience post-workout soreness know how hard it is to drop into a squat after leg day.

Sports massage in particular is known for its effects on movement functionality, but any manipulation of muscle and connective tissue can improve these parameters, including use of a personal massage tool. Researchers believe this occurs because massage therapy encourages blood flow to the joints, promotes circulation of the lymph, and relaxes the muscles.

Massage Alleviates Stress and Anxiety

In today’s go-go-go world, we’re all expected to do more all the time: More work, more family events, more responsibilities. You owe it to yourself to enjoy a stress-relief treatment every once in a while, or every day if you have a massage device handy.

Massage has been shown to reduce job-related stress and lessen symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder. Reducing stress from other areas of life allows you to focus on your pursuit of health and fitness. If nothing else, soothing soft tissue mobilization can reboot your energy and vitality so you can get back to winning at life — and in the gym.

Massage Helps You Sleep

Just like stress and anxiety run rampant nowadays, so does lack of sleep. If you need a little help unwinding, consider adding massage therapy into your fitness routine.

Research has found that therapeutic massage can help you fall asleep faster and get better quality shut-eye, especially when anxiety or stress is causing your sleeplessness. At-home massage devices are especially convenient and effective, because you can use them right before bed.

Massage therapist giving a back massage to a client
Woman in shorts massages her arm with a massage gun outside on a bench in a park

Massage Reduces Soreness and Knots

Muscle knots, sometimes called trigger points, are tightly contracted patches of muscle that become tender to the touch. The most common areas to develop muscle knots are the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Sometimes, muscle knots work themselves out over time, but massage therapy can speed up that process and restore pain-free range of motion.

Any type of traditional massage or self-massage can be helpful in treating trigger points and tenderness.

While there’s no true cure for delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), massage therapy has been linked to reduced severity of soreness and speedier recovery after exercise. What’s more, compared with various other forms of workout recovery, massage was found to be the best way to recover from workouts.

Massage Increases Range of Motion

By manipulating the soft tissue throughout your body, massage therapy can improve your joint range of motion and flexibility. Those who experience post-workout soreness know how hard it is to drop into a squat after leg day.

Sports massage in particular is known for its effects on movement functionality, but any manipulation of muscle and connective tissue can improve these parameters, including use of a personal massage tool. Researchers believe this occurs because massage therapy encourages blood flow to the joints, promotes circulation of the lymph, and relaxes the muscles.

Massage therapist giving a back massage to a client

Massage Alleviates Stress and Anxiety

In today’s go-go-go world, we’re all expected to do more all the time: More work, more family events, more responsibilities. You owe it to yourself to enjoy a stress-relief treatment every once in a while, or every day if you have a massage device handy.

Massage has been shown to reduce job-related stress and lessen symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder. Reducing stress from other areas of life allows you to focus on your pursuit of health and fitness. If nothing else, soothing soft tissue mobilization can reboot your energy and vitality so you can get back to winning at life — and in the gym.

Massage Helps You Sleep

Just like stress and anxiety run rampant nowadays, so does lack of sleep. If you need a little help unwinding, consider adding massage therapy into your fitness routine. Research has found that therapeutic massage can help you fall asleep faster and get better quality shut-eye, especially when anxiety or stress is causing your sleeplessness. At-home massage devices are especially convenient and effective, because you can use them right before bed.

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Things to Consider

Things to Consider

Massage isn’t right for everyone, 100% of the time. Some people should check with their doctor, physical therapist, or other healthcare provider before getting a massage or using a massage gun. This includes people who are pregnant or postpartum, currently healing from major injuries or surgeries, have autoimmune conditions, or otherwise might be especially sensitive to the effects of massage.

Learn More About Massage and Exercise Recovery

  • Foam Roller vs. Massage Gun: Which is More Effective? 
  • How to Use a Muscle Massager for Knots
  • How to Treat Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness
  • 7 Reasons All Athletes Should Get Regular Massages

References

  • Guo J, Li L, Gong Y, et al. Massage alleviates delayed onset muscle soreness after strenuous exercise: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Front Physiol. 2017;8:747.
  • Dupuy O, Douzi W, Theurot D, Bosquet L, Dugué B. An Evidence-Based Approach for Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness, Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Front Physiol. 2018;9:403. Published 2018 Apr 26. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00403
  • Yeun YR. Effectiveness of massage therapy on the range of motion of the shoulder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(2):365-369. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.365
  • Davis HL, Alabed S, Chico TJA. Effect of sports massage on performance and recovery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2020;6(1):e000614. Published 2020 May 7. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000614
  • Lyu BJ, Lee CL, Chang WD, Chang NJ. Effects of Vibration Rolling with and without Dynamic Muscle Contraction on Ankle Range of Motion, Proprioception, Muscle Strength and Agility in Young Adults: A Crossover Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(1):354. Published 2020 Jan 4. doi:10.3390/ijerph17010354
  • Nazari F, Mirzamohamadi M, Yousefi H. The effect of massage therapy on occupational stress of Intensive Care Unit nurses. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2015;20(4):508-515. doi:10.4103/1735-9066.161001

Keys to Recovery

Nutrition

Sleep

Rest

Supplements

Stretching

Keys to Recovery

Nutrition

Sleep

Rest

Supplements

Stretching