Psychophysiological effects of preperformance massage before isokinetic exercise

J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Feb;25(2):481-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e83a47.


Sports massage provided before an activity is called pre-event massage. The hypothesized effects of pre-event massage include injury prevention, increased performance, and the promotion of a mental state conducive to performance. However, evidence with regard to the effects of pre-event massage is limited and equivocal. The exact manner in which massage produces its hypothesized effects also remains a topic of debate and investigation. This randomized single-blind placebo-controlled crossover design compared the immediate effects of pre-event massage to a sham intervention of detuned ultrasound. Outcome measures included isokinetic peak torque assessments of knee extension and flexion; salivary flow rate, cortisol concentration, and α-amylase activity; mechanical detection thresholds (MDTs) using Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments and mood state using the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire. This study showed that massage before activity negatively affected subsequent muscle performance in the sense of decreased isokinetic peak torque at higher speed (p < 0.05). Although the study yielded no significant changes in salivary cortisol concentration and α-amylase activity, it found a significant increase in salivary flow rate (p = 0.03). With the massage intervention, there was a significant increase in the MDT at both locations tested (p < 0.01). This study also noted a significant decrease in the tension subscale of the POMS for massage as compared to placebo (p = 0.01). Pre-event massage was found to negatively affect muscle performance possibly because of increased parasympathetic nervous system activity and decreased afferent input with resultant decreased motor-unit activation. However, psychological effects may indicate a role for pre-event massage in some sports, specifically in sportspeople prone to excessive pre-event tension.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Athletic Performance / psychology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction*
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Muscle Relaxation / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Psychophysiology
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Sports / psychology
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonography
  • Young Adult