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Massage and recovery, when is it optimal?

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Most people use massage in the clinic as a therapy to relax, calm and relieve pain, or to ease hypertoned, tight muscles. But the underutilized aspect of massage therapy, enhanced recovery and muscular regeneration, is often overlooked. Athletes in high performance sport have utilized this aspect of massage therapy for years, but why? Recent research is suggesting that massage can provide increased muscular regeneration and decreased muscular soreness post workout.

In 2015, researchers out of Ohio State University studied the amount of muscle regeneration in rabbits post exercise. Through their research they found that not only did massage improve muscular regeneration (muscular healing) it also stimulated angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation). These results indicate that targeted massage post exercise will promote greater blood flow to the trained muscles through increased capillaries as well as enhanced muscular repair. This can speed up recovery from a hard workout.1

Therapeutic massage has also been shown to reduce feelings of DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness). In 2002, Thomas Swansen out of the Center for Health Sciences in Ithaca, NY studied massage 2, 6, 24, and 48 hours post exercise and how it related to recovery and muscle soreness. He found that the group who received massage 2 hours post exercise had the least amount of muscular soreness.2 All groups experienced improvements in terms of sensation of DOMs however the sooner they received a massage treatment, the more the benefits were observed.

With the inclusion of the TRX training and other physical activities at iHealth, patients may find the increased activity and muscular challenge results in slightly higher levels of muscular soreness (DOMS). Booking a massage soon after your upcoming workout may help decrease DOMS and enhance your recovery and results from your workout. And who doesn’t want to be less sore, and recover faster!

For further information check out the links below, or talk to one of the specialists at the clinic.

  1. Massage may boost muscular regeneration (research article linked through article): http://www.runnersworld.com/sweat-science/massage-may-boost-muscle-regeneration
  2. The effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness:  http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/37/1/72.full