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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun;42(6):1062-71. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181c9214f.

Massage impairs postexercise muscle blood flow and "lactic acid" removal.

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School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.



This study tested the hypothesis that one of the ways sports massage aids muscle recovery from exercise is by increasing muscle blood flow to improve "lactic acid" removal.


Twelve subjects performed 2 min of strenuous isometric handgrip (IHG) exercise at 40% maximum voluntary contraction to elevate forearm muscle lactic acid. Forearm blood flow (FBF; Doppler and Echo ultrasound of the brachial artery) and deep venous forearm blood lactate and H+ concentration ([La-], [H+]) were measured every minute for 10 min post-IHG under three conditions: passive (passive rest), active (rhythmic exercise at 10% maximum voluntary contraction), and massage (effleurage and p├ętrissage). Arterialized [La-] and [H+] from a superficial heated hand vein was measured at baseline.


Data are presented as mean +/- SE. Venoarterial [La-] difference ([La-]v-a) at 30 s of post-IHG was the same across conditions (passive = 6.1 +/- 0.6 mmol x L(-1), active = 5.7 +/- 0.6 mmol x L(-1), massage = 5.5 +/- 0.6 mmol x L(-1), NS), whereas FBF was greater in passive (766 +/- 101 mL x min(-1)) versus active (614 +/- 62 mL x min(-1), P = 0.003) versus massage (540 +/- 60 mL x min(-1), P < 0.0001). Total FBF area under the curve (AUC) for 10 min after handgrip was significantly higher in passive versus massage (4203 +/- 531 vs 3178 +/- 304 mL, P = 0.024) but not versus active (3584 +/- 284 mL, P = 0.217). La(-)- efflux (FBF x [La-]v-a) AUC mirrored FBF AUC (passive = 20.5 +/- 2.8 mmol vs massage = 14.7 +/- 1.6 mmol, P = 0.03, vs active = 15.4 +/- 1.9 mmol, P = 0.064). H+ efflux (FBF x [H+]v-a) was greater in passive versus massage at 30 s (2.2 +/- 0.4e(-5) vs 1.3 +/- 0.2e(-5) mmol, P < 0.001) and 1.5 min (1.0 +/- 0.2e(-5) vs 0.6 +/- 0.09e(-5) mmol, P = 0.003) after IHG.


Massage impairs La(-) and H+ removal from muscle after strenuous exercise by mechanically impeding blood flow.

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