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Should You Get a Massage Before or After a Workout?

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: July 25, 2023

I have been recommending sports massages to my clients for many years to help them increase flexibility and blood flow to their muscles.

Twice a week, I get a massage to get my body ready for the next workout and to speed up my recovery afterward.

Recently, a client asked me if a pre-workout or post-workout massage is more beneficial, so I consulted a physical therapist at my gym to nail down the answer.

Read on to learn about my experience and the data I gathered.

Quick Summary

  • You should get a massage before workout in order to improve your performance, and to reduce the chances of getting injured.
  • The benefits of pre-workout massage include; improving mood, increasing your energy levels, and enhancing flexibility.
  • Poeple who prefer post-workout massage enjoy the following benefits; decreasing muscle soreness, and reducing overall stress.

Should You Have a Massage Before or After Working Out?

You should have a massage before working out if you want to improve performance and prevent injuries and after if you want to boost recovery and hypertrophy.

Consider the following physiological and psychological benefits.

Benefits of a Pre-Workout Massage

A woman getting massaged

Helps to Enhance Your Mood

Pre-workout massage can stimulate the production of feel-good hormones by easing muscle stress and tension.

Endorphine, dopamine, and serotonin are some examples of hormones and neurotransmitters that help with overall well-being, focus, and motivation to work out [1].

Helps Increase Energy And Strength

Pre-workout massage can also help increase blood flow throughout the body, giving your muscles more energy and strength.

Consequently, you can lift heavier weights, train for more extended periods, and achieve your fitness goals faster [2].

Helps Enhance Movement and Flexibility

Pre-workout massage can help loosen tight muscles around the joints.

This makes it easier for the joints to move freely within their normal range. By moving better and being more flexible, you can lower the chance of getting injured while working out [3].

Benefits of a Post-Workout Massage

A woman smiling while getting massaged

Hasten Post-Workout Recovery

Post-workout massages can help your muscles heal and recover from micro-tears caused by heavy workouts by increasing blood circulation.

This means that oxygen and micronutrients are delivered quickly to your tissue fibers, assisting in their repair and making you feel better [4].

Decrease Muscle Soreness

Massage can help relieve sore muscles after a strenuous workout because applying moderate pressure to muscles forces blood to other parts of the body.

This brings more oxygen and nutrients to the area, which helps get rid of stiffness faster and reduce inflammation [5].

"Massage can reduce tension in muscles and impact flexibility, reducing muscle stiffness, increasing blood flow, and reducing muscle soreness."

- Leada Malek, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist

Reduces Mind And Body Stress

A massage session after a workout, like a pre-exercise massage, can help your mind and body feel less stressed by giving you complete relaxation.

This helps raise your levels of feel-good hormones, making you feel much better after a long, tough workout [6].

Are There Any Drawbacks?

A woman with a hurting neck

There might be some drawbacks to getting a sports massage if they are done by an untrained therapist.

Those might include increased tiredness, muscle pain, and headaches.

Going to a regular massage therapist who isn't trained in sports rub may result in a longer, more intense muscle kneading than you need, leaving your muscles tired and in pain.

Research has also shown that using too much pressure during a massage can cause muscle soreness, which can lead to headaches and a lack of motivation to train [7].

Other Ways to Reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

In addition to getting a massage, there are other ways to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), such as hydrating well, stretching, and eating the best pre-workout snacks.

Increasing water intake around your workout can help flush out lactic acid buildup and boost oxygenation and nutrient delivery to working muscles, allowing your body to recover faster [8].

Additionally, static stretches help to relax tight muscle fibers, and a high-carb and protein meal can help replenish vital nutrients lost during exercises [9].


Is It Good to Have a Massage After Lifting Weights?

It is good to have a massage after lifting weights because it can help to reduce the effects of simultaneous muscle tissue contractions during strength training.

After weight lifting, deep tissue massage can increase oxygen and nutrient supply to damaged tissues, hastening muscle repair.

How Often Should You Get a Massage When Working Out?

You should get a massage at least once a week if you engage in athletic training frequently.

However, depending on your personal therapist's advice and the reason for the massage, you may seek a good rubdown a few times per week.

Which Is Better: Getting a Massage Before or After a Workout?

Getting a massage before or after a workout is equally important, so the answer to the question of which is better may depend on your goals and personal preferences.

Both can improve your performance, but those effects may not be sufficient. So, I usually advise my clients to include high-quality pre-workouts in their routines to further boost energy, strength, and muscle recovery.

My team has tried and tested these supplements over the years, and the top products on our lists proved to consistently improve our performance, muscle building, and weight loss.


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