MASSAGE IS AN ESSENTIAL RECOVERY AID
The benefits aren’t scientifically proven, so is this a case of mind over matter?
There can’t be many cyclists who haven’t registered the disconnect between the professionals’ obsession with the benefits of massage and the lack of scientific evidence for them.
According to Paul Hough, lead physiologist at St Mary’s University: “The theory that massage enhances recovery following exercise is based on massage having numerous physiological and psychological effects: increasing blood flow; reducing muscle tension and providing a sense of well-being. It is debatable whether massage improves post-exercise muscle recovery as few scientific studies have verified this theory. That said, many studies have reported psychological benefits of massage, such as reducing the sensation of muscle soreness.”
Dr Cheung agrees that the benefits are primarily psychological, but no less valuable for that. “The actual physical or physiological benefits of massage are open to debate. It’s still likely a very worthwhile treat to give yourself on occasion. It’s a form of mental recovery, and it can have benefits in muscle recovery that may not be readily observable in a laboratory setting.”