How Does Massage Help Sore Muscles?

Muscle soreness can, quite literally, be a pain. But can massage help?

Research suggests it might.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, massage therapy can provide relief from muscle and joint soreness and stiffness, back and neck problems, menstrual cramps, tension headaches and other types of pain.

Key Facts:

  • Increased Blood Flow: Massage helps increase blood flow to sore muscles, which can help reduce inflammation and speed up the recovery process.
  • Release of Tension: By applying pressure and manipulating muscle tissues, massage can help relieve muscle tension and stiffness associated with soreness.
  • Pain Reduction: The human body responds to massage in part by releasing endorphins, which can help diminish pain and activate a feeling of relaxation and well-being.
  • Promotes Flexibility: Regular massage can help improve flexibility and range of motion in muscles and joints, which may prevent future soreness and injury.
  • Psychological Effect: The relaxation response during massage may also contribute to a sense of well-being and relief from discomfort.

It may even help with circulation issues, improve sleep quality and reduce stress.

And while we aren’t scientists ourselves, here’s what we can tell you: Massage is a fantastic complement to physical activity.

Whether you’re working out, playing sports or just taking care of your body, massage can be an important part of the overall fitness routine.

So let’s take a look at why you might want to use massage if you’re suffering from muscle soreness.

Massage for sore muscles
Treating sore muscles with massage

Symptoms of muscle soreness

Muscle soreness is a common condition that can cause pain and muscle fatigue. But what actually causes your muscles to become sore in the first place?

Most cases of muscle soreness occur after strenuous exercises, such as running, swimming, playing sports, or lifting weights. Muscle soreness can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. It often occurs shortly after an activity or exercise session.

A muscle can become sore if the muscle tissue is stretched beyond its normal range of motion and then is forced to contract, which causes tiny tears in the muscle fibers. These tears leak fluids into the surrounding tissues and muscles swell from the extra water. This swelling can be painful and cause tenderness, inflammation, and stiffness.

Treatment for muscle soreness typically includes rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications. But can massage also help?

Common reasons for sore muscles

Muscle soreness occurs when the muscles become strained. Muscle soreness is caused by intense physical activity or exercise, but it can happen for other reasons as well. Sometimes you can even have sore muscles after a minor injury or a cold.

The main reason that we get sore after exercising is that the muscles become too warm and the lactic acid builds up.

This is caused by the buildup of stress on the muscle and the fact that the muscle isn’t getting enough oxygen. Lactic acid causes an acidic feeling in the muscles. It can burn and it can cause damage to the muscle fibers.

However, you might also develop muscle soreness if you don’t stretch after exercising. Stretching is an important part of building strength and flexibility.

Stretching improves circulation. These benefits increase after each session. If you stretch for about 15 to 20 minutes, you’ll get better results. You’ll also be able to avoid muscle soreness, and you’ll have a healthier body.

When you exercise, you can help prevent this by warming up your muscles first. 

How does pressing help relieve muscle soreness?

Pressing/applying pressure helps with muscle soreness and tightness by increasing the flow of blood in the muscles and serotonin levels, which helps to treat muscle and soft tissue.

By using pressure, oxygen and nutrients are brought to the muscle cells and waste products are removed.

This helps the muscles to function better following exercise and prevents lactic acid build-up, which can cause muscle soreness.

Should you get a massage when you have sore muscles?

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether or not massages are going to help you… 

But as we’ve discussed already, pressure can help with blood flow in the muscles, so this can help with soreness.

Massage can also reduce inflammation, relax tight muscles, and stop muscle spasms which should help with sore muscles.

When you decide to a massage is the way forward for you, choose a reputable studio with experienced massage therapists who know how to provide you with a relaxing and beneficial experience.

What types of massage are mainly used for delayed onset muscle soreness?

There are several types of massage that can be used to help relieve or prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Some of the most common techniques include kneading, deep tissue massage, and Swedish massage.

These types of massage will loosen tight muscles, increase the circulation of blood within the muscles, and remove waste products from the muscles.

A qualified massage therapist can help to determine the best type of massage for each individual. In general, regular massages can help stop DOMS and reduce muscle soreness.

However, for athletes who compete in endurance events, this is often the last thing you want to do. The first few days of training, recovery, and even after the race are usually the most painful.

Overall. massages are a great way to get rid of muscle soreness and prevent DOMS from taking hold, as well as improve your recovery time.

What is deep tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage is a type of massage that helps to treat deep-seated muscle pain and tension. 

It is a technique that is used to release the knots in the connective tissue, reducing inflammation. 

If you’re suffering from muscle soreness, then this type of massage may be the best option for you.

It is performed on specific points on the body which can reduce soreness and improve range of motion.

The key benefits of a deep tissue massage include:

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Improved circulation and lymphatic drainage
  • Increased range of motion
  • Pain relief

This form of massage is often recommended as a preventative measure to ward off injury and improve athletic performance. It has been found that it can increase strength by 25%.

Unlike a Swedish massage, which focuses on moving and stimulating muscles, it focuses on loosening up tight muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia.

It’s very useful for athletes who suffer from tight or sore muscles and ligaments after a rigorous workout.

It can also be very effective for people who suffer from chronic pain and stiffness, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Because of its focus on the deeper layers of muscle, tendons, and ligaments, deep tissue massage is especially effective for those who don’t experience immediate relief from standard massage techniques.

It’s also a very effective way to release tension and increase blood flow in the body. It may be used before or after a workout and before or after an injury has healed.

This type of massage should be performed by a trained professional who understands the muscles of the body.

The therapist needs to apply enough pressure to reduce the pain and increase the blood flow to the area, so the first step is to ask your massage therapist if he or she offers this as a service.

Does Deep Tissue Massage Hurt?

Many people believe that deep tissue massages only hurt when the therapist is dragging, kneading, or digging their hands into the client’s body.

But, those sensations are only caused by the therapist’s weight-bearing down and pressing on the muscle. The actual pressure applied is light, almost like a massage oil is being used.

Whilst some people (myself included) might experience some discomfort whilst having this type of therapeutic massage, the benefits are worth it as ultimately it will cause the muscles to relax.

Does Massage Help Recovery for Performance?

There is some evidence that massage may help with recovery from exercise-induced inflammation and damage to muscles, and even increase your range of movement.

One study found that a Swedish massage technique called “kneading” lessened inflammation in muscle tissue and helped muscles recover faster after exercise.

Another study found that a different post-exercise massage technique called ” effleurage” significantly improved inflammation and helped muscles recover more quickly from exercise-induced damage.

Whilst the jury is still out on how or why massage may help helps with inflammation, pain and speeding up muscle recovery, it is thought that the massage techniques may help to break up adhesions in muscle fibers, improve blood flow to muscles, and reduce muscle tension.

Summing up

As we’ve seen in this article, the evidence for massages helping with your sore muscles is pretty compelling, and it’s easy to see why they could work.

So what’s the best way to go about getting a massage?

First, you should find a reputable masseuse or spa that specializes in working with people with muscular injuries.

You want someone who’s experienced in working with muscles that are stiff and tight, and who has the necessary training to do so.

You should also try to find a therapist who has worked with athletes or people with injuries in the past. Someone who’s done their research will be able to treat you effectively and in a way that’s tailored to your needs.

Another important thing to look for is a massage that involves lots of deep tissue work. These are particularly useful when it comes to relieving stiffness and tension that often accompany muscle injuries.

But there’s a lot more to massage than just having someone rub your sore muscles. There’s also an entire field devoted to the study of massage, called osteopathy.

A good massage therapist is also a good osteopath, and they’ll often be able to identify issues within your body that may be causing pain and stiffness.

And of course, the benefits of massage extend far beyond just your muscles.

But whatever you decide to do, don’t suffer in silence!