Dose-dependency of massage-like compressive loading on recovery of active muscle properties following eccentric exercise: rabbit study with clinical relevance

Br J Sports Med. 2013 Jan;47(2):83-8. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2012-091211. Epub 2012 Jun 26.


Background: Optimal strategies for massage and its use in athletes have not been conclusively demonstrated. PURPOSE/STUDY DESIGN: Effects of varying duration, frequency and magnitude of massage-like compressive loading (MLL) on recovery of skeletal muscle active properties (torque angle (T-Θ) relationship) following exercise-induced muscle injury were studied.

Methods: Twenty-four New Zealand White rabbits were surgically instrumented with bilateral peroneal nerve cuffs for stimulation of hindlimb tibialis anterior muscles. Following a bout of eccentric exercise (EEX), rabbits were randomly assigned to a MLL protocol of 0.25 or 0.5 Hz at 5 or 10 N for 15 or 30 min. T-Θ was obtained for 21 tibiotarsal joint angles pre- and post-EEX and post 4 consecutive days of MLL. Muscle wet weight and H&E sections were obtained following final treatments.

Results: EEX produced an average 61.8%±2.1 decrease in peak isometric torque output. Differences in torque recovery were found between magnitudes (5 and 10 N; p=0.004, n=12) and frequencies (0.25 and 0.5 Hz; p=0.012, n=12), but no difference for durations (15 and 30 min) with the 0.5 Hz, 10 N, 15 min protocol showing greatest recovery 4 days post-EEX. MLL muscle (n=12) wet weight was 3.22±0.18 g, while no MLL tissue (n=9) weighed 3.74±0.22 g (p=0.029). Histological analysis showed a difference in torn fibres between low-parameter and high-parameter MLL (6.5±1.04 vs 0.5±0.29 per 0.59 mm(2), p=0.005).

Conclusions: Results showed a dose-response effect for magnitude and frequency of MLL on recovery of active muscle properties following EEX. Future studies will investigate underlying biological mechanisms for this enhanced recovery of muscle function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Hindlimb
  • Massage / methods*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Rabbits
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*
  • Torque