If you’ve ever gone for a massage after a tough workout, chances are your muscles felt more relaxed. But, how exactly can massage quell muscle soreness and thus, boost your recovery? The magic lies in better blood flow, according to research conducted at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
The study randomly assigned 25 subjects to one of two groups. The first group was asked to train their legs with a leg press machine until their legs felt sore. A second group did the same workout, but received a Swedish massage on their legs following the workout. As expected, both exercise groups experienced soreness immediately following exercise. However, those who received a rub down reported no continuing soreness 90 minutes after their massage, whereas those in the non-massage group reported lasting soreness 24 hours after their exercise.
The researchers also measured the subjects’ blood flow at different points following exercise. They found that massage increased blood flow, and the effect lasted a number of days. Increased blood flow helps remove waste products and toxins from your muscles, which amps up recovery and promotes muscle growth. If you’re regularly pushing your limits in the gym (or in sports), hit the massage table often.