[Purpose] It has been well-established that exercise-induced muscle damage occurs following intense exercise. Massage is commonly used to manage muscle damage resulting from exercise. However the effect of massage after exercise is still not clear. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of manual lymph drainage on muscle damage and on the removal of blood lactate following submaximal exercise (SE), as part of a solution to the challenging problem in sports medicine of muscular recovery after exercise. [Subjects and Methods] Eighteen healthy male students, with moderate exercise training, were randomly assigned to either receive manual lymph drainage (MLD) or serve as controls. Both groups were subjected to a graded exercise test, performed on a treadmill ergometer, to determine each subject's individual anaerobic threshold (IAT). Seven days later, all subjects were made to run for 30 minutes on the same treadmill ergometer, at a running speed equivalent to the IAT. One group received MLD treatment, while the control subjects received no treatment. [Results] Following an increase immediately after exercise, lactic acid (LA) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) serum levels dropped rapidly and significantly at the end of MLD application and two hours after SE in the subjects receiving MLD. The course of creatine kinase (CK) and myoglobin levels was comparable, and with myoglobin showing a significant difference at 2 h after SE, and CK at 24 h after SE. [Conclusion] Manual lymph drainage after SE correlated with a more rapid fall in LA and of the muscular enzymes of LDH, CK and myoglobin, and may have resulted in an improvement in the regenerative processes elicted by structural damage to the muscle cells.
Keywords: Manual lymph drainage; Recovery; Submaximal exercise.