Effects of massage on limb and skin blood flow after quadriceps exercise

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Aug;36(8):1308-13. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000135789.47716.db.


Purpose: At present, there is little scientific evidence that postexercise manual massage has any effect on the factors associated with the recovery process. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of massage against a resting control condition upon femoral artery blood flow (FABF), skin blood flow (SKBF), skin (SKT), and muscle (MT) temperature after dynamic quadriceps exercise.

Methods: Thirteen male volunteers participated in 3 x 2-min bouts of concentric quadriceps exercise followed by 2 x 6-min bouts of deep effleurage and p├ętrissage massage or a control (rest) period of similar duration in a counterbalanced fashion. Measures of FABF, SKBF, SKT, MT, blood lactate concentration (BLa), heart rate (HR), and blood pressure (BP) were taken at baseline, immediately after exercise, as well as at the midpoint and end of the massage/rest periods. Data were analyzed by two-way ANOVA.

Results: Significant main effects were found for all variables over time due to effects of exercise. Massage to the quadriceps did not significantly elevate FABF (end-massage 760 +/- 256 vs end-control 733 +/- 161 mL x min(-1)), MT, BL, HR, and BP over control values (P < 0.05). SKBF (end-massage 150 +/- 49 vs end control 6 +/- 4 au) SKT (end-massage 32.2 +/- 0.9 vs end-control 31.1 +/- 1.3degreesC) were elevated after the application of massage compared with the control trial (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: From these data it is proposed that without an increase in arterial blood flow, any increase in SKBF is potentially diverting flow away from recovering muscle. Such a response would question the efficacy of massage as an aid to recovery in postexercise settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Extremities / blood supply*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Skin / blood supply*
  • United Kingdom


  • Lactic Acid