The dilemma: Athletes everywhere groaned upon hearing the results of a recent study that found that sports "recovery" massages received shortly after an activity not only fail to remove lactic acid, as believed, but also impair blood flow to tired muscles. There's no evidence to prove they'll help you feel less sore the next day. Does that mean we don't need them, after all? And are there any good physiological reasons to get a massage after a tough workout?
The advice: If you're not used to the activity (or the amount of time), delayed onset soreness will hit you 24 to 48 hours after you push your muscles to the limit, says Millar. This stiff, achy feeling that causes you to move like a marionette is part of the body's natural healing process, and there's no way to speed it up. However, Millar says some studies have shown that a massage at this time (not sooner) can decrease the perception of pain, and plenty of other research shows that massage at any time can decrease stress, produce endorphins, and increase psychological well-being. So forget about lactic acid and performance, schedule your massage for after you're already sore, and prepare to feel better and looser—even if you won’t be faster and stronger.