A research team from Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada, say they have have blown open the myth that massage after exercise improves circulation to the muscle and assists in the removal of lactic acid and other waste products.

“This dispels a common belief in the general public about the way in which massage is beneficial,” says Michael Tschakovsky, PhD, kinesiology and health studies professor. “It also dispels that belief among people in the physical therapy profession. 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.”

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 web site as one of the benefits of massage, despite there being absolutely no scientific research to back this up, the researchers say.

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, they say.

The study will be presented at the annual American College of Sports Medicine conference in Seattle on May 27 to 30.

[Source: Queens University]