Latest Research on Massage and Exercise-Induced Muscle Soreness
Postexercise Leg Massage
Massage therapy is often considered a panacea for exercise-related aches, pain and soreness. Is there any truth to these claims?
To answer that question, researchers from the University of Illinois, Chicago, recruited 36 sedentary young adults who were separated into three groups: exertion-induced muscle injury plus massage therapy; exertion-induced muscle injury only; and massage therapy only. Subjects in the first two groups were directed to perform a bilateral leg press exercise until they were sore. Immediately afterward, the exertion-induced injury plus massage group received a 30-minute leg massage. Participants then rated their soreness from 1 to 10. Postexercise blood flow was measured after 90 minutes and again after 24, 48 and 72 hours.
Blood flow was greater in both massage groups. The nonmassage group registered less blood flow after 90 minutes, 24 hours and 48 hours; blood flow was normalized in this group at the 72-hour mark. The exercise plus massage group reported no continued soreness after 90 minutes, whereas the exercise-only group’s soreness lasted 24 hours.
“Our results suggest that massage therapy attenuates impairment of upper extremity endothelial function resulting from lower extremity exertion-induced muscle injury in sedentary young adults,” the researchers concluded.
The study was published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (2014; doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j .apmr.2014.02.007).
Self-Massage and DOMS
In other massage news, a study published in The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy (2014; 9 , 82–91) also looked at the benefits of postexercise massage. This time, however, the research involved a self massage tool.
The small study included 22 untrained men who performed 10 sets of 10 repetitions of stiff-legged dead lifts to induce delayed-onset muscle soreness. Forty-eight hours later, subjects returned to the intervention site and were given one of two tasks: 10 minutes of massage roller release on one leg or 10 minutes of rest.
“There was a significant group by time interaction for soreness and pressure pain threshold (PPT), with the massage group experiencing reduced soreness and increasing PPT compared with the control group,” the authors explained. “There was
no group by time interaction for range of motion. At 10 minutes post massage there was a significant reduction in soreness of the non-massaged limb in the crossover control group compared to controls, but this effect was lost 30 minutes post massage.”
Do you encourage your clients to incorporate self-massage—using a foam roller or other device—into their weekly programs? massage groups. The nonmassage group registered less blood flow after 90 minutes, 24 hours and 48 hours; blood flow was normalized in this group at the 72-hour mark. The exercise plus massage group massage tool. What benefits have you noticed from this practice? Please send your responses to [email protected]