Effects of ice massage on pressure pain thresholds and electromyography activity postexercise: a randomized controlled crossover study

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2010 Mar-Apr;33(3):212-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2010.01.015.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of ice massage postexercise on pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) over the quadriceps muscle and the electromyography (EMG) root mean square (RMS).

Methods: Fifteen athletes (female, 8; age, 19 +/- 2 years) participated. Subjects were required to visit the laboratory on 2 separate occasions with a 1-week interval between sessions. Participants performed 5 isokinetic concentric dominant knee extension contractions at 60 degrees , 120 degrees , 180 degrees , and 240 degrees /s. After exercise, they were randomly assigned to receive either an ice massage or detuned ultrasound for 15 minutes, 1 on each session. The PPT and RMS during maximal voluntary contraction were measured over the vastus medialis (VM), vastus lateralis (VL), and rectus femoris (RF) muscles at baseline, postexercise, and 5 minutes postintervention. The hypothesis of interest was the intervention x time interaction.

Results: The analysis of covariance found a significant intervention x time interaction for PPT over the VM (F = 17.3, P < .001) and VL (F = 5.4, P = .03) muscles but not over the RF (F = 1.2, P = .3), indicating an increase in PPT after the ice massage. An intervention x time interaction was found for RMS of the VL (F = 5.8, P = .01) but not of the VM (F = 0.5, P = .5) or RF (F = 0.01, P = .9) muscles, indicating an increase in RMS after the ice massage. A significant positive correlation between PPT and RMS for the VL muscle was identified (r = 0.6, P = .03).

Conclusion: Ice massage after isokinetic exercise produced an immediate increase of PPT over the VL and VM and EMG activity over the VL muscle in recreational athletes, suggesting that ice massage may result in a hypoalgesic effect and improvements in EMG activity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Electromyography / instrumentation
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Management*
  • Pressure*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult