Does post-exercise massage treatment reduce delayed onset muscle soreness? A systematic review

Br J Sports Med. 1998 Sep;32(3):212-4. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.32.3.212.


Background: Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a frequent problem after unaccustomed exercise. No universally accepted treatment exists. Massage therapy is often recommended for this condition but uncertainty exists about its effectiveness.

Aim: To determine whether post-exercise massage alleviates the symptoms of DOMS after a bout of strenuous exercise.

Method: Various computerised literature searches were carried out and located seven controlled trials.

Results: Most of the trials were burdened with serious methodological flaws, and their results are far from uniform. However, most suggest that post-exercise massage may alleviate symptoms of DOMS.

Conclusions: Massage therapy may be a promising treatment for DOMS. Definitive studies are warranted.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Creatine Kinase / analysis
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle, Skeletal / enzymology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Placebos
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Placebos
  • Creatine Kinase