Massage and ultrasound as therapeutic modalities in exercise-induced muscle damage

Can J Appl Physiol. 1999 Jun;24(3):267-78. doi: 10.1139/h99-022.


Although both massage and ultrasound treatment are used in clinical settings to enhance muscle functional recovery following exercise-induced muscle damage, there is a paucity of experimental evidence for their efficacy. Theoretically both massage and ultrasound could affect some physiological factors associated with enhancement of postexercise muscle recovery. However, the actual physiological mechanisms by which massage or ultrasound could influence postexercise muscle damage and repair are unknown. Most experimental evidence suggests that massage has little influence on muscle blood flow, clearance of "noxious" substances, recovery of postexercise muscle strength, or delayed soreness sensation. However, more data is needed before conclusions can be drawn as to the ability of massage to influence postexercise inflammatory response or various other physiological changes that characterize exercise-induced muscle damage and repair. There is even less information on the ability of ultrasound to influence physiological or functional factors associated with postexercise muscle damage. The few experiments that have been done tend to be contradictory and have yet to consider the range of ultrasound treatment parameters for therapeutic effectiveness in treating postexercise damage and influencing repair processes. Much more research is needed to determine whether either treatment modality can have any therapeutic effect on exercise-induced muscle damage and recovery of postexercise muscle function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Massage*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Myositis / pathology
  • Myositis / physiopathology
  • Myositis / therapy
  • Pain / pathology
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Management
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Ultrasonic Therapy*