DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, often includes symptoms such as stiffness, muscle pain, tenseness, and difficulty when it comes to sitting down. Usually, this syndrome occurs after intense workouts, such as deadlifting weights, completing HIIT workouts, or even just running outdoor terrain with various inclines. Both for athletes and the common workout enthusiast, these symptoms tend to come on around 48 hours after the workout and can persist for as long as a week after the fact—which can be debilitating.
The cause of DOMS is the micro-tears that occur in the muscles from the intense workouts completed. This is a normal aspect of healing for the body, and even though it is healthy and expected, it can still inhibit not just any workouts you’re planning soon after but activities in your daily life as well. While there are many ways that people help themselves recover from DOMS, massage is among the most common ways to speed along the healing, so you can get back to your life and workout routines. There are three main massage devices that help facilitate quicker healing: foam rollers, massage guns, and massage balls.
Benefits of Massage Tools for DOMS
I want to dive into a couple of tools that help DOMS and speeds up muscle recovery. These devices may be the extra things you need when you’re done a 5-7 mile run or ride.
Massage guns also called a percussive massager, give those suffering from muscle tension and soreness the benefits of massage therapy without the need to visit a masseuse. It is one of the most common choices among marathoners and basketball players and for the ease with which it reduces soreness. It does this by flushing the lymph fluid and venous blood from the muscles and back into the bloodstream through the use of percussive force.
This results in the breaking up of fibrous adhesions while reducing soreness in the muscles significantly and relaxing away tight muscles. It has been shown by studies conducted by the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research that percussive therapy could be every bit as effective at reducing DOMS symptoms as a massage session.
Using a massage ball provides a self-myofascial release, which helps to loosen and stretch the fascia, helping the muscles beneath to move with greater ease. These balls can be used on virtually any part of the body that is experiencing soreness, and while they don’t cover as much area at once as other massage tools such as foam rollers, they are great for targeting one specific spot, such as the hamstrings. They are also popular due to the portability that allows them to be taken anywhere.
Foam rollers are also a type of self-myofascial release, helping to reduce the tension of the fascia surrounding the muscles to positively affect their freedom of movement. Scar tissue can develop in the fascia, which makes it difficult to move, but these rollers easily eliminate that tightness.
With the right massage tools, massage therapy can certainly be used to help reduce the symptoms of DOMS with the same level of efficiency as professional massage therapy. For this reason, you should consider adding the tools to your post-workout routine.