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Don't bother with a massage to banish post-workout aches and pains… just do MORE exerciseMassage was thought to be best way soothe painBut research shows that exercise is just as effectiveIt's thought that both help to clear out lactic acid,
associated with exercise and tissue damage
09:31 GMT, 12 April 2013
10:39 GMT, 12 April 2013
Exercise is just as effective as massage in treating aching muscles
It's long been thought that a soothing massage is the best way to ease those post-workout aches and pains.
But new research suggests – rather depressingly – that doing more exercise can be just as effective.
'It's a common belief that massage is better, but it isn't,' said Lars Andersen, the lead author of the new study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
'In fact, massage and exercise have the same benefits.'
Earlier research has shown that massage can offer some relief from workout soreness.
To understand how well light exercise compares, Professor Andersen, from the National Research Center for the Working Environment in Copenhagen, asked 20 women to do a shoulder exercise while hooked up to a resistance machine.
The women shrugged their shoulders while the machine applied resistance, which engaged the trapezius muscle between the neck and shoulders.
Two days later, the women returned to the lab with aching trapezius muscles.
On average, they rated their achiness as a five on a ten point scale, up from 0.8 before they had done the shoulder workout.
The women then received a 10-minute massage on one shoulder and did a 10-minute 'recovery' exercise on the other shoulder. Some women received the massage first, while others performed the exercise first.
The recovery exercise involved shoulder shrugs like the initial exercise; but this time the women gripped an elastic tube held down by their foot to provide resistance.
Professor Andersen found that, compared to a shoulder that wasn't getting any attention, both massage and exercise each helped diminish muscle soreness.
Save your money: Spending extra time exercising is just as effective as an indulgent massage, according to new study
The effect peaked 10 minutes after each treatment, with women reporting a pain reduction of 0.8 points after the warm up exercise and 0.7 points after the massage.
'It's a moderate change,' Professor Andersen told Reuters.
He said that athletes would notice a difference in having their soreness reduced by this amount.
'By reducing soreness, [athletes] could be able to perform better, but we didn't measure this,' he said. 'If you are sore, your movements are very stiff and it's difficult to perform.'
clear how massage or exercise helps relieve soreness, but it is thought
that both help to clear out metabolic byproducts, such as lactic acid,
associated with tissue damage and exercise.
Professor Andersen recommends that people try light exercise to ease their pain.
The effect is moderate, and only offers temporary relief, but the
benefit of using exercise, he said, is that it doesn't require a
trained therapist, travel time or money.