Thursday, July 8, 2010

Post-Workout Massage A Good Idea?

Work your muscles out hard, and then let someone work hard on them.  Sounds like a good plan...right?

It is common for people to receive massage work after a workout, marathon, cycling race, and other athletic competitions...but maybe they shouldn't.  A recent study found that a basic sports massage (effleurage and petrissage, which are light to medium-pressure strokes) after a workout to the forearms decreases blood flow to the exercised muscles and delayed the removal of lactic acid.  When blood flow is limited, nutrients that the muscles need (amino acids and glucose) aren't arriving as quickly as they could.  Basically, getting a massage after a workout may delay your recovery AND decrease the results you experience from a workout (remember: the benefits of strength training come during the days after...the workout is just a stimulus for change).

According to my sports massage textbook, a post-event massage should be immediately after or at least one hour later.  Considering the results of the study, I suggest waiting at least an hour.

Finally, avoid a deep tissue for your post-workout massage.  Deep work is contraindicated for fatigued muscles because it could lead to cramps.  In addition, your ability to judge the massage therapist's pressure may be masked by the post-workout endorphin rush.

So, as long as you wait an hour, you can enjoy a light sports or Swedish massage (and possibly a nap) after your workout or athletic event. 


Unknown said...

This is the reason why I went to undergo some massage training at formation massage bordeaux. Thanks for sharing this one.

Dr. Sean Preuss said...


I'm glad I could help. Thanks for reading.