Effects of sport massage on limb girth and discomfort associated with eccentric exercise

J Athl Train. 2005 Jul-Sep;40(3):181-5.


Context: Sport massage is often used to help prepare for exercise, expedite recovery from muscle soreness, and enhance athletic performance. However, the effect of sport massage on recovery from delayed-onset muscle soreness is unknown.

Objective: To determine the effect of a short sport massage treatment on intramuscular swelling and pain in response to eccentric exercise.

Design: We used a 2 x 8 (treatment x time) repeated-measures design to compare triceps surae muscle girth and pain ratings over the 72 hours after eccentric exercise.

Setting: University research laboratory.

Patients or other participants: Nineteen healthy, college-aged subjects.

Intervention(s): Delayed-onset muscle soreness was induced with several sets of eccentric triceps surae contractions at 90% of the estimated concentric, 1-repetition maximum weight. Subjects returned on 3 consecutive days after eccentric exercise with a cycle ergometer for active rest treatments. In addition, 1 leg received the sport massage.

Main outcome measure(s): Girth measurements were taken at 5.08 cm (2 in), 10.16 cm (4 in), 15.24 cm (6 in), and 20.32 cm (8 in) below the knee joint line, and pain was assessed with a visual analog scale before and after all 4 sessions.

Results: No interaction was noted between treatment and time for any girth or pain measurements, and no main effect was seen for treatment.

Conclusions: Sport massage did not reduce girth or pain in the lower leg after eccentric exercise within 72 hours.