Background: The use of sports massage is very common in the athletic community. However, only a few studies have shown any therapeutic effect of massage.
Hypothesis: Sports massage can improve the recovery after eccentric exercise.
Study design: Prospective randomized clinical trial.
Methods: Sixteen subjects performed 300 maximal eccentric contractions of the quadriceps muscle bilaterally. Massage was given to 1 leg, whereas the other leg served as a control. Subjects were treated once daily for 3 days. Maximal strength was tested on a Kin-Com dynamometer, and functional tests were based on 1-leg long jumps. Pain was evaluated using a visual analog scale.
Results: There was a marked loss of strength and function of the quadriceps directly after exercise and on the third day after exercise. The massage treatment did not affect the level or duration of pain or the loss of strength or function following exercise.
Conclusion: Sports massage could not improve the recovery after eccentric exercise.