What Are the Benefits of Sports Massage?
If you ask a sports massage therapist, they’ll tell you that sports massage is amazing. If you ask a scientist, though, they’ll tell you the exact benefits are still being studied. They do know that massage is one of the best recovery techniques for reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and perceived fatigue, compared to cryotherapy, compression garments, and electrostimulation, according to a meta-analysis published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.
Another analysis, which examined 29 studies, published this year in the British Journal of Sports Medicine confirmed those findings regarding DOMS, but “found that massage sports massage specifically does not actually improve performance in terms of sprinting, jumping, strength, endurance, or fatigue,” says Iafrate. “However, there was a statistically significant benefit to flexibility.”
Those improvements in flexibility: That’s going to help your biomechanics when it comes to running, loosening everything up so you can move the most efficiently next time you hit the road, says Iafrate.
Massage also reduced pain intensity in runners’ quads in a study from the Journal of Physiotherapy. Additional research shows that massage can reduce inflammation, making it easier for damaged muscles to recovery postworkout.