Does massage really help muscle soreness?

Also I would like to know how fast can a man recover from muscle soreness and what methods exist that really help preventing/recovering from muscle soreness.


If you're talking about Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), there's this question and answer that might help you out. Specifically to answer your question though with DOMS you need to break it into prevention and then management once it shows up. Specifically related to massage though:

Does massage really help muscle soreness?

This 2005 study says yes, as it comes to swelling. If you look at the study design though, you'll note that this was with regular massage, not just a one time thing. It was also for a rather small muscle group (arm).

Massage was effective in alleviating DOMS by approximately 30% and reducing swelling, but it had no effects on muscle function.

This 2003 study is also quasi-supporting massage:

Similarly, massage has shown varying results that may be attributed to the time of massage application and the type of massage technique used.

So it's a little incorrect to say "massage helps DOMS" since there are a lot of variables. The severity of damage, the muscle group(s), the type of massage, the frequency of massage, other training factors, and the massage practitioner are all variables.

DOMS is not fully understood, but as it's understood right now you can use the following tips for management (before and after):

  • Eccentric exercises (lengthening) are notorious providers are DOMS. Good mornings, skull crushers, and anything where you are lowering weights in a controlled manner will nearly always provide DOMS.
  • L-Glutamine, a relatively cheap supplement, has been shown to reduce severity of DOMS.
  • Big jumps in volume and particularly new exercises are likely to cause DOMS.
  • Most management techniques (after the fact) are temporary.
  • Provided you can keep a good form, it shouldn't keep you from training, although you may need to increase your warmups.

Long term the best way to deal with DOMS is to use a proper strength training program, stick with the most important (and valuable) exercises, and know that eccentric lifts will leave you sore for a few days.


Muscle soreness is a symptom of small damages within your muscle fibres. For treatment, it may helps to increase blood flow in order to supply the damaged muscle fibers with nutrients. Blood flow can be increased by

  • massages (that was your question)
  • low-intensity activity (like walking or easy running, if you have sore leg muscles, for example)
  • hot showers/bath/sauna (warmth)

As far as I know, there's nothing you can do for preventing muscle soreness. But as soon as you get accustomed to the exercise, it should get better.

As it basically boils down to providing nutrients to your muscle fibers, the quality of your nutrition matters as well, of course.

  • For soreness that comes from cycling, the quality of your recovery nutrition can have a noticeable effect on soreness of the legs. – Eric Gunnerson Oct 20 '14 at 4:49
  • Thanks for the hint, this should apply to all kinds of soreness. I've updated the answer accordingly. – zero-divisor Oct 20 '14 at 5:12
  • Thanks for the answer! I got really big muscle sore ( hurts like I broke an arm ), and now I will recover :) – Кристиян Кацаров Oct 20 '14 at 5:32
  • hot tube -> ice cold tube -> hot tube -> ice cold tube. One of the best holistic treatments documented back to the 16th century. Also extremely effective at reducing soreness. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_sauna – pufferfish Oct 20 '14 at 19:22

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