Massage after exercise – Not a good idea?

May 18, 2009

It is a given that if you exercise regularly that having a massage afterwards will be beneficial as it disperses the build up of lactic acid in the muscles and helps blood flow.

Apparently it’s not a given at all, but a widely-accepted myth that has not been really investigated until now. A team from Queen’s University at Kingston in Canada have found that massage actually impairs blood flow to the muscle after exercise, rather than the other way around.

As a great fan of the positive benefits of massage – though rather less so of exercise – I find this distressing as it gives you no excuse for a nice relaxing rub down. The theory that massage improves muscle blood flow and helps get rid of lactic acid is a firmly held belief by both the public and physical therapists – and certainly masseurs. However it is just a theory, no one has actually ever examined and proved it, until now when Kinesiology and Health Studies professor Michael Tschakovsky and MSc candidate Vicky Wiltshire undertook this study.

They are set to put the cat among the pigeons at the annual American College of Sports Medicine conference in Seattle at the end of May when their firm conclusion that massage actually impairs blood flow to the muscle after exercise, and that it therefore also impairs the removal of lactic acid will I am sure be hotly debated.


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