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.
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