The effect of massage on acceleration and sprint performance in track & field athletes

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2018 Feb;30:1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2017.10.010. Epub 2017 Oct 28.


Purpose: To examine the acute effects of pre-competition massage on acceleration and sprint performance in collegiate track and field athletes.

Methods: Seventeen collegiate male (n = 9) and female (N = 8) track and field athletes participated in the study. Athletes were assigned to a counterbalanced, repeated measures designed experiment testing four treatment conditions of a pre-competition massage, dynamic warm-up, combination of a massage and warm-up, and a placebo ultrasound.

Results: The reliability between treatments was very high (ICC range: 0.94-0.98) and displayed a high internal consistency (Cronbach α = 0.96). Inter-item correlations for treatments were strong at all time intervals (20-m r = 0.74-0.90; 30-m r = 0.87-0.95; 60-m r = 0.88-0.95). There were no significant differences between the four treatments and performance (p = 0.70). Massage decreased 60-meter sprint performance in comparison to the traditional warm-up, although the combination of the massage and warm-up appeared to have no greater difference than the warm-up alone.

Conclusions: Massage prior to competition remains questionable due to a lack of effectiveness in improving sprint performance. Further, pre-competition massage may not be more effective as a pre-event modality, over a traditional warm-up.

Keywords: Manual therapy; Massage; Modalities; Sprint kinematics.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Running*
  • Track and Field*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult