A massage immediately after exercise – rather than just before or days after – may be most effective for recovery, says a new study. Researchers examined the muscles of animals through microscopes and found that those that received the equivalent of a massage 30 minutes after exercise showed better recovery than those who were massaged two days after a tough workout. "Of course, a massage immediately after a hard workout can be painful – our athletes won't let us touch them because they're so sore," says Thomas Best, the study's lead author. "But if you start the massage right away, it can help."