Massage Reduces Muscle Stiffness

Post-exercise soreness is painful and debilitating. Eccentric exercise (lengthening muscle contractions), such as downhill walking or negatives, often causes sore muscles by triggering muscle injury and secondary muscle inflammation. Most studies found that popular remedies such as ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., Advil) and heat do not speed recovery. Several recent studies found that massage decreased post-eccentric exercise inflammation and promoted recovery, particularly if done immediately after exercise. An Australian study showed that massage decreased muscle stiffness, even in people who hadn’t exercised. Researchers measured the stiffness of the calf muscles using a technique called ultrasound shear elastography. Massage reduced stiffness for only a short time, but it was effective. (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine Science Sports, published online December 8, 2014)

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