How a Massage Can Help Relieve Post-Workout Aches and Pains

How a Massage Can Help Relieve Post-Workout Aches and Pains

A solid workout gets your endorphins going, so you know you will feel good after your exercise session. You also know your muscles will be sore and aching. Stretching can help some, but a post-workout massage can be a better option. 

Benefits of a Post-Workout Massage

You can always opt to massage your own muscles after your workout. Assistive devices, like tennis balls, lacrosse balls, or foam rollers, can help with the aching and soreness. It can help increase circulation and possibly clear impurities from your body to a degree. However, a full massage from a trained professional is a horse of a different color.

Faster Recovery Between Workouts

A study done in 2015 found that the percentage of regenerating muscle fibers increases when a post-workout massage is performed. Massage therapy for recovery can serve as an essential tool between your intense workout sessions. 

Your level of fitness doesn't matter, either. The benefits of a post-workout massage can help relieve the pain and soreness that comes after a hard workout. The relief generated by massage helps to clear the mind so you can prepare for your next workout session.

Increased Blood Circulation

A massage delivered by a trained professional after your workout can help increase the blood flow to your muscles and tissue. If you increase the circulation, you increase the amount of blood flowing to the muscles. A post-workout massage allows the blood to rush into the muscles, which helps them to recover quicker

Increased Oxygen in Muscles

Any activity that increases the amount of blood that reaches the cells also increases the amount of oxygen available to them. A post-workout massage encourages an increased level of oxygen in the blood. This increase in oxygenation can increase the energy available to the muscles, help reduce muscular fatigue, and keep the muscles healthy.

Washes Away Toxins and By-Products

Massage therapy can reduce levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. It can reduce pain and temporarily reduce muscle soreness after strenuous exercise. Post-workout massage also helps speed the healing of sore, overworked muscles by supporting the repair process inherent to the muscle cells and reducing inflammation. 

Decreases Pain and Soreness

After your challenging workout, you're feeling the aches and pains that go with hyped-up muscles. A post-workout massage can relieve the pain and tension in minutes. 

Minimizes the Effects of DOMS

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is when you notice muscle stiffness or pain developed a day or two after your workout. A post-workout massage can minimize the effects of this condition. DOMS usually rears its head after you exercise again. 

A 2018 study published in Frontiers in Physiology found that massage is "...the most effective method for reducing DOMS and perceived fatigue." 

Types of Massages for Post-Workout Recovery

What type of massage therapy is the best for your post-workout recovery? Several massage types can provide the results you desire.

Swedish Massage

Designed to promote relaxation and recovery, the therapist provides long, flowing strokes along with some gentle grasping and kneading of the muscle. 

Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu massage originated in Japan and works by incorporating acupressure and following the acupuncture channels of the body. It also incorporates a series of multiple stretches.

Deep Tissue Massage

Also known as orthopedic massage or clinical massage, this type focuses on muscle and other soft tissue issues, such as trigger points or knots, fascial adhesions, and other conditions that restrict movement.


Self-massage describes any style of massage that you perform on yourself. Arms or legs are easily done post-workout, from compression and squeezing to light stretches. Try a massage gun for a deeper self-massage.


This type of massage focuses on applying different pressures on the hands, feet, and ears. This can be particularly useful after a heavy lifting session or a long run.

How Often Should You Include Massages in Your Post-Workout Routine?

Exercise recovery involves rest, allowing you to reap the benefits of your workouts. The tissues of your body recover and become slightly more fit than before. It is the repetition of this process of stress and recovery that results in improved fitness and health. 

It isn't always possible to receive a full, professional massage after a workout, but even a short massage can provide you with benefits post-exercise. A 10 to 15-minute massage after a workout or a race can support muscle recovery. Many therapists also recommend full massages once a month with a licensed therapist to augment your short sessions post-workout.

How to Enhance the Benefits of Massages

The effectiveness of massage comes from how you manipulate the muscles and tissues. The massage therapist kneads and rubs your body's soft tissues, which include skin, muscle, connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments. Massage can offer several benefits:

  • Increases relaxation
  • Lessens pain and muscle tightness
  • Helps reduce stress
  • Improves the work of the immune system

The environment also plays a role in the effectiveness of massage. Some simple ways to enhance the benefits of massage through environmental factors include:

  • Ensure you're fully hydrated before your massage begins.
  • Arrange for your massage in a quiet, pleasant, safe space.
  • Consider aromatherapy to assist in relaxation or to address specific symptoms.
  • Play relaxing, soothing music during your session.
  • Decorate the space with plants and natural elements to help promote thoughts of healing and health.


Many massage therapists recommend drinking water and adding immune-supportive supplements like vitamin C and zinc. Certain supplements may help increase some hormone levels. 

  • Tyrosine. A naturally produced amino acid that is often used as a pre-workout supplement. 
  • Green tea and green tea extract. Loaded with antioxidants, green tea and its extracts help support brain function, support fat loss, reduce the chances of heart disease, and may protect against cancer.
  • Probiotics. These beneficial bacteria help reduce depression, improve digestive health, and promote heart health.
  • Tryptophan. Also known as serotonin, it is an essential amino acid that's used to make proteins. 

Massage Away Your Aches and Pains

Be sure to let your massage therapist know you've been working out before your massage. Then lay back and enjoy. A thorough massage offers the best advantage to your tired and stressed muscles after your rigorous workout, but if you can't fit that into your schedule, a 10 to 15-minute session can make a world of difference. 

Make certain you're getting the best type of massage to alleviate your post-workout aches and pains. And don't forget the importance of nutrition and supplements to keep your body in great shape.

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