Objective: Research into the effects of manual massage on physical performance has proved inconclusive, with studies primarily examining the major muscle groups of the lower extremities. Grip performance is essential for object manipulation, as well as for many grip-dependent activities and sports; but there have been no studies to determine the effects of manual massage on immediate grip performance in healthy subjects. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of using manual massage to improve power-grip performance immediately after maximal exercise in healthy adults.
Study design: This was a pretest/post-test study.
Setting: The study took place in a suburban allied health school.
Subjects: Fifty-two (52) volunteer massage-school clients, staff, faculty, and students participated.
Interventions: Subjects randomly received either a 5-minute forearm/hand massage of effleurage and friction (to either the dominant hand or nondominant hand side), 5 minutes of passive shoulder and elbow range of motion, or 5 minutes of nonintervention rest.
Outcome measures: Power-grip measurements (baseline, postexercise, and postintervention) were performed on both hands using a commercial hand dynamometer. These measurements preceded and followed 3 minutes of maximal exercise using a commercial isometric hand exerciser that produced fatigue to 60% of baseline strength.
Results: After 3 minutes of isometric exercise, power grip was consistently fatigued to at least 60% of baseline, with recovery occurring over the next 5 minutes. Statistical analyses involving single-factor repeated-measures analyses of variance (p = 0.05) with Bonferroni a priori tests (p = 0.0083) demonstrated that massage had a greater effect than no massage or than placebo on grip performance after fatigue, especially in the nondominant-hand group.
Conclusions: Manual massage to the forearm and hand after maximal exercise was associated with greater effects than nonmassage on postexercise grip performance. The present data do support the use of a 5-minute manual massage to assist immediate grip performance after fatigue in healthy subjects.