It’s an accepted fact that a massage after a heavy workout can soothe aching joints and muscles. However, a recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research revealed that light exercise is just as effective in dealing with soreness.
In dispelling the myth that a massage is the best option, Lars Andersen, lead author of the study and a Professor at the National Research Center for the Working Environment in Copenhagen, said, “It’s a common belief that a massage is better, but it isn’t better. Massage and exercise had the same benefits. If people go out and exercise and get sore, they can find some relief in warming up the muscles.”
This conclusion was based on the responses of twenty women with a mean age of 32 to both a massage and light exercise after a heavy workout.
The heavy workout involved performing resistance shoulder workouts that targeted the trapezius muscle resulting in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). After a period of 48 hours, some of these women were given a 10-minute massage while the others had to perform resistance band shoulder shrugs for ten minutes.
Also, the intensity of soreness was rated on a scale of one to ten, and on an average, was eight before being given the massage or asked to perform light exercise, and after which, recorded a value of 5 for both groups of women.
The researchers concluded that “active exercise using elastic resistance provides similar acute relief of muscle soreness as compared with massage”. They also believe that this study should also be helpful to athletes, physical therapists or coaches who could use this either in the preparation of an athletic contest or in providing relief afterwards.