Massage Is Only Marginally Effective

Massage has little effect on post-exercise recovery— according to a meta-analysis and literature review of 22 studies by scientists from Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany. Massage worked best following workouts that combined strength and endurance training. Massage lasting five to 12 minutes was superior to longer sessions. Untrained people benefited from massage more than experienced athletes. Researchers concluded that the effects of massage on recovery from exercise are small and inconsistent. Other studies have found that massage decreased muscle soreness after eccentric exercise (lengthening muscle contractions) and that it reduced symptoms in people with chronic back pain. Massage has only minor effects on promoting recovery and reducing musculoskeletal pain, but we need more research on this time-honored and popular modality. (Sports Medicine, published online January 7, 2016)

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