Vibration massage helps reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and speeds recovery

Vibration massage helps reduce post exercise soreness and speed recovery


Clinical trials show us that using vibration massage significantly reduces post exercise soreness and speeds recovery. This is something you can easily do yourself with a personal use massager. In this article we will show you the best way to do this.


Why you get soreness
What the trials found
Practical application

Why you get soreness

Microscopic structure of muscles
Strenuous exercise can damage these microscopic fibres

Exercise induced muscle damage

Your muscles are made of microscopic fibres. Strenuous exercise can damage these causing:

  • damaged fibres that need to heal, and
  • a build up of various chemicals including products from tissue breakdown.

This leaves:

Delayed Onset Muscle Pain (DOMS)

The soreness resulting from exercise induced muscle damage is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It typically occurs 24-48 hours after the exercise.

Reduced muscular performance

Exercise induced muscle damage typically causes a decreased range of motion (flexibility) and reduced strength. To illustrate this, some of the trials measured the number of repetitions of an exercise a person could before and after the strenuous exercise. Say you could normally do 10 reps. The day after strenuous exercise you might only be able to do 6, then take a few days until you can do 10 again.

DOMS: journal article
This article is based upon the findings of several clinical trials

What the trials of vibration found

We found several trials that tested the use of vibration to help reduce post exercise soreness and speed recovery. The following is a summary of what they found.


All trials found that using vibration significantly reduced post exercise soreness

Blood chemicals

Those that measured the levels of the unwanted chemicals in the blood found that they were reduced by vibration massage.


As mentioned before, one typically gets a reduction in muscle performance during the recovery phase, and this can be measured by the number of repetitions of an exercise. Vibration massage reduced the decrease in performance, and shortened the time needed to be able to do the normal amount.

The scientifically proven effects of vibration massage
Summary of the scientifically proven effects of vibration massage

Why vibration works

As discussed in our article the scientifically proven effects of vibration massage vibration penetrates and has the effects shown in this diagram.

Important effects helping post exercise soreness and speeding recovery.

  • relaxing the muscles
  • increasing blood flow, and
  • increasing healing

Other scientifically proven benefits

If you use vibration to help reduce post exercise soreness and speed recovery science tells us you may also get the following benefits.

  1. Lengthen "stretch" your muscles and increase blood flow. This is excellent for warming up and helping prevent injuries (10-12).
  2. Increase various performance parameters (13)
  3. Speed healing of any injuries (14).

Practical application of vibration to help post exercise soreness and speed recovery

The most effective protocols

  • The trials all used vibration ranging from 30-60hz (discussed later) applied directly to the muscles.
  • Some used the vibration before exercising to prepare the muscles. Some used the vibration after exercise and during the recovery phase. Both worked, but before was slightly more effective.
Using vibration massage on thigh
Simply hold the massager on the muscle and let the vibrations penetrate

How to apply the vibration

Please note that this is for general information only. Please discuss your specific needs with a professional familiar with your needs.

  1. Use a genuine vibration massager (discussed below)
  2. Apply approximately 50 Hz vibration directly to the belly of each muscle for approximately 30 seconds
  3. The trials show that it works using either before or after exercise. If you have your own massager we recommend you apply the massage before, after, and each day during recovery

Choosing the right equipment

We have a separate article on how to choose a massager. However, it is very important that this be a genuine vibration massager rather than a percussion massager. As discussed in our article Are massage guns a gimmick marketing claims about these are highly dubious and deceptive while the reality is that they are far less effective and more dangerous.

Using a massager

Please check out our vibration massage usage guide . Both our General Purpose Massagers and Ultimate Quad Head Massager have speed ranges of approximately 30-60 Hz. This means to get approximately 50 Hz you would set the machines at about 85% of full speed.

The trials of using vibration massage we found

First trial (1)⁠

In this trial one third of participants had no treatment, one third were given conventional massage, while the third group had their muscle massaged before exercise using a vibrating massager set at 50Hz. The results showed that both conventional massage and the vibration massage resulted in significantly lower DOMS, with those receiving vibration massage recovering faster than those who received conventional massage. They also showed that the group receiving the vibration massage had significantly less residual Lactic Acid.

Second trial (2)⁠

In this trial one group received vibration massage of 50Hz to the centre of the muscle, while the comparison group received no vibration. There was a significant decrease in the soreness of those who received vibration when compared to those who received none. Muscles showed a decrease in maximum contraction strength post exercise for both groups, but this decrease was less in those who received vibration.

Third trial (3)⁠

In this trial one group received a vibration massage of 30-50Hz whole the comparison group received no vibration. The group receiving vibration experienced a significantly lower level of pain.

Fourth trial (4)⁠

In this trial one group received vibration massage at 40 Hz while the comparison group received no vibration. Those receiving the vibration experienced significantly less pain over 24-120 hours post exercise.

Fifth trial (5)⁠

This trial one group was treated with a vibration pad giving 30-65Hz, for 30 minutes starting 30 minuted after exercising then on days 1,2 3 and 4. From days 2-5 soreness of those receiving the vibration was 18-30% less than those who did not, with soreness disappearing altogether earlier.

Sixth Trial (6)⁠

It was shown that the application of 50-60 Hz vibration to muscles either prior to exercise or after exercise results in considerably less pain and the presence of considerably less of the resultant blood born chemicals

Quotes from scientific reviews

Review quote one (7)⁠

“Vibration is an effective modality in the field of rehabilitation. Vibration therapy improves muscular strength, power development and kinesthetic awareness, increased flexibility, motor unit synchronisation. Various researches which shows effectiveness of vibration therapy in management of DOMS”

Review quote two (8)⁠

“Vibration therapy before eccentric exercise may prevent and control DOMS”


  1. Shaqufla I, To compare the effect of vibration therapy and massage in prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) Vol. 8, Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 2014. p. 133–6.

  2. Bakhtiary AH, Safavi-Farokhi Z, Aminian-Far A. Influence of vibration on delayed onset of muscle soreness following eccentric exercise. Br J Sports Med. 2007;41(3):145–8.

  3. Kamandani R, Ghazalian F, Ebrahim K, Ghassembaglou N, Shiri Piraghaj M, Khorram A. The Effect of Acute Vibration Training on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness in Young Non-Athlete Women. Heal Scope. 2015;_

  4. Broadbent S, Rousseau JJ, Thorp RM, Choate SL, Jackson FS, Rowlands DS. Vibration therapy reduces plasma IL6 and muscle soreness after downhill running. Br J Sports Med. 2010;44(12):888–94.

  5. Lau WY, Nosaka K. Effect of vibration treatment on symptoms associated with eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2011;

  6. Kim J-Y, Kang D-H, Lee J-H, O S-M, Jeon J-K. The effects of pre-exercise vibration stimulation on the exercise-induced muscle damage. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(1):119–22.

  7. Veqar Z, Imtiyaz S. Vibration therapy in management of delayed onset muscle soreness . J Clin Diagnostic Res. 2014;8(6):10–3.

  8. Sethi V. Literature review of management of delayed onset muscle soreness (doms). Int J Biol Med Res. 2012;3(1):1469–75.

  9. Poenaru D, Cinteza D, Petrusca I, Cioc L, Dumitrascu D. Local Application of Vibration in Motor Rehabilitation - Scientific and Practical Considerations. Maedica 2016;11(3):227–31.

  10. Bakhtiary AH, Fatemi E, Khalili MA, Ghorbani R. Localised application of vibration improves passive knee extension in women with apparent reduced hamstring extensibility A randomised trial J Physiother. 2011

  12. Maloney-Hinds C, Petrofsky JS, Zimmerman G. The effect of 30 Hz vs. 50 Hz passive vibration and duration of vibration on skin blood flow in the arm Med Sci Monit . 2008;14(3):CR112-6.
  13. Germann D, El Bouse A, Shnier J, Abdelkader N, Kazemi M, Germann D, et al. Effects of local vibration therapy on various performance parameters: a narrative literature review. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2018;62(3).
  14. MEI R, XU Y, LI Q. Experimental Study on Mechanical Vibration Massage for Treatment of Brachial Plexus Injury in Rats. J Tradit Chinese Med. 2010

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Dr Graeme

About Dr Graeme

Several years ago Dr Graeme, a Chiropractor practicing in Victoria, Australia was looking for a serious hand held massager his patients could use at home to get the extra quality massage they needed. The ones he found in the shops and on-line for home use looked nice but were not serious, and... read more

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