Does massage after exercise really improve blood flow?

May 8th, 2009 - 5:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, May 8 (IANS) Does massage after exercise really improve blood flow to the muscle and remove lactic acid and other waste products from the body? The answer is no, and to the contrary massage actually impairs blood flow to the muscle after exercise.
“This dispels a common belief in the general public about the way in which massage is beneficial,” says kinesiology and health studies professor Michael Tschakovsky of Queen’s University, where the study was carried out.

“All the physical therapy professionals that I have talked to, when asked what massage does, answer that it improves muscle blood flow and helps get rid of lactic acid. Ours is the first study to challenge this and rigorously test its validity,” he said.

The belief that massage aids in the removal of lactic acid from muscle tissue is so pervasive it is even listed on the Canadian Sports Massage Therapists website as one of the benefits of massage, despite there being absolutely no scientific research to back this up.

Kinesiology MSc candidate Vicky Wiltshire and Tschakovsky set out to discover if this untested hypothesis was true, and their results show that massage actually impairs blood flow to the muscle after exercise, and that it therefore also impairs the removal of lactic acid from muscle after exercise, said a Queen’s release.

This study will be presented at the annual American College of Sports Medicine conference in Washington May 27-30.

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