Tuesday 14th July, 2020

How to reduce post exercise soreness

Dr Graeme's comments
If you exercise or play sports seriously you’ll experience muscle soreness the next day. In this article we share with you a simple thing you can do yourself that’s clinically proven to reduce post exercise soreness and speed recovery.

What is this soreness

The basic principle of serious exercise is to overload your muscles, causing microscopic damage. This stimulates your body to repair and re-build stronger. The microscopic damage also causes post exercise pain, known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS for short. It typically occurs 24-72 hours after exercising., and is characterized by muscular pain. As well, your muscle will have a buildup of unwanted residual chemicals such as lactic acid,. They will be tight and restrict movement, and until recovered they will not be able to produce as much force.

Reducing delayed onset muscle soreness

Clinical trials have shown that by using vibration massage you can do the strenuous exercises, but have a lot less soreness and recover faster. Vibration massage is a simple therapy you can easily do on yourself. A quality hand held vibration massagers can be purchased for not much more than the cost of a single professional therapy session, then this allows practically unlimited use of this therapy. In the next section we will give an overview of how to use this therapy, the for those interested there is a summary of the clinical trials

Your massager

We recommend one of our DrGraeme General Purpose Massagers. While historically most massagers built for personal use have been ineffective (1)⁠ these are easy to use and very serious units built by a Chiropractor to handle conditions such as back pain, so they are very capable for delivering this therapy.

Using the massager

There are some hints and cautions which you will find in the usage guides which come with our massagers or can be downloaded from www.drgraeme.com, but basically using vibration massage is extremely simple. The vibrating head of the massager is placed over the belly of the muscle, and the vibrations are allowed to penetrate. There is no need to know any massage techniques.


The following advice is general information, that does not take into account your specific needs. Please always seek advice from your own health care professional first.

When to massage

The clinical trials showed that it was beneficial using vibration massage before exercise to prepare the muscles. It was also shown to be beneficial massaging after exercise and during recovery. Once you have a massager ongoing usage is practically free so we recommend getting maximum benefits by massaging, before, after, and each day during recovery.

The vibration frequency

The trials obtained excellent results using frequencies from 40-50 Hz, which is about 75-90% of full power for a General Purpose Massager.

How long to massage for

We recommend you start with 30-60 second applications. For smaller muscles a single application will be sufficient, while larger muscles may need multiple applications.

Appendix: the scientific trials.

Scientific terms used


groups of people given a placebo or no treatment for comparison


individual people being tested


the frequency of vibration (DrGraeme General Purpose Massagers run from 10-55 Hz)

Trial One (2)⁠

What was done

Subjects were given either conventional massage therapy or vibration at 50 Hz before exercising.

The results

  • Those given massage or vibration massage had much less soreness at 24, 48 and 72 hours after exercising. The recovery was fastest when vibration massage was used.
  • Ranges of motion (ROM) were reduced after exercise, but those receiving massage and vibration massage had less reduction and recovered faster
  • All had reduced muscle strength after exercise. Those receiving massage and vibration massage recovered faster, with vibration being the fastest.
  • Those receiving vibration had significantly less lactic acid 48 hours post exercise.

Trial Two (3)⁠

What was done

Subjects were given one minute of 50 Hz vibration massage before exercising.

The results

  • Those given vibration were significantly less sore after exercises
  • All subjects had less strength after exercise, but this effect was much lower in those who had the vibration.

Quote from scientists

“DOMS is a major complication faced by athletes after eccentric activities, which may compel them to postpone their sports activities, thus prevention and treatment of DOMS is of great concern to coaches, trainers, and therapists. In this study, we investigated the effect of vibration on muscle before downhill treadmill walking and our results showed that applying vibration before eccentric activities may prevent DOMS and so it may help non-athletic people to follow and complete their sport activities without any delay.”

Trial Three (4)

What was done

Subjects were given vibration massage at 30-50Hz before exercising. Rather than soreness, the researchers measured the tenderness of the muscles.

The results

  • The muscles of those receiving vibration were significantly less tender.

Trial Four (5)⁠

What was done

Subjects were given daily vibration treatments of 40 Hz for five days after exercising. The researchers measured both soreness, and several blood chemicals associated with inflammation.

The resuts

  • The vibrations significantly reduced soreness
  • The vibrations resulted in positive changes with the blood tests (see quote)

Quote from the scientist

“VT (vibration therapy) reduces muscle soreness and IL6. It may stimulate lymphocyte and neutrophil responses and may be a useful modality in treating muscle inflammation.”

Trial five (6)

What was done

Subjects were given vibration treatment 30 minutes after exercise, then 1,2,3 and 4 days after exercise. Researchers measured both soreness, and the loss of range of motion (ROM) following exercise.

The results

  • Those treated with vibration had reduced soreness
  • Those treated with vibration suffered less loss of ROM, and recovered faster.

Trial six (7)⁠

What was done

This trail tested the use of vibration (60Hz) before and after exercise. The researchers measured muscle tenderness, and blood chemicals including lactic acid.

The results

  • Vibration before exercise was shown to be best for reducing muscle tenderness.
  • The normal level of lactic acid is about 380. 72 Hours after exercising the controls had a level of about 2000, whereas those receiving vibration either before or after were near normal.

Author's note

Once you have your own massager you can use it before and after


  1. McDonagh D, Wilson L, Haslam C, Weightman D. Good vibrations: Do electrical therapeutic massagers work? Ergonomics. 2005;
  2. Imtiyaz S, Veqar Z, Shareef MY. To compare the effect of vibration therapy and massage in prevention of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). J Clin Diagnostic Res. 2014;
  3. 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.
  4. 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;
  5. 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.
  6. Lau WY, Nosaka K. Effect of vibration treatment on symptoms associated with eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2011;
  7. 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.

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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