Massage is an ever-growing modality at elite swimming competitions. This has convinced many that massages help prevent soreness. Unfortunately, this belief is still highly debatable, as you’ll see from the below review article as we look at does massage improve soreness?
Mechanisms of DOMS
Inflammation and edema
Effectiveness of Massage
Massage and DOMS
- Micklewright and colleagues examined 20 male subjects, new to strength training. The participants were asked to perform eccentric elbow extensions in order to induce DOMS. One group received soft tissue release (STR) while the other received no treatment. DOMS was assessed at 24 and 48 h after exercise. Researchers did not find any statistical reduction in the level of soreness between groups (Micklewright, 2009).
- Mancinelli and colleagues examined 22 female basketball and volleyball players, a group accustomed to exercise. Subjects were asked to perform quadricep exercises to induce DOMS. 11 subjects received a massage to the quads which included effleurage, petrissage, skin rolling and vibration, while the other 11 received no treatment. The participants that received the massage had increased vertical jump displacement, and lower perceived soreness (Mancinelli et al., 2006).
- A study conducted by Zainuddin suggested massage might be beneficial for DOMS. Researchers studied 10 subjects; 5 men and 5 women. Participants were asked to perform eccentric bicep curls to induce DOMS. One arm received a 10 min massage, 3 h post exercise, while the other arm received no treatment. The massaged arm was found to have reduced activity of CK, as well as decreased soreness compared to the arm that did not receive the massage (Zainuddin et al., 2005).
- Rodenburg and colleagues separated 50 subjects into 2 groups after inducing DOMS. Group 1 performed a dynamic warm-up and stretching before exercise, and received a 15 min massage after exercise. Group 2 did not perform the warm-up or receive a massage. Group 1 experienced less pain during the 96 h evaluation period (Rodenburg et al., 1994).
- Smith and colleagues had 14 participants perform elbow extension and flexion exercises to induce DOMS. Two hrs after exercise, the intervention group received a 30 min massage, which included effleurage and petrissage, while the control group received no treatment. Smith noted a reduction in soreness in the massage group from 24 to 96 h post exercise (Smith et al., 1994).
- Wenos and colleagues had participants perform eccentric knee extensions to induce DOMS. One leg received a massage, while the other leg received no treatment. Soreness was evaluated by a pain questionnaire 24, 48, and 72 h after exercise. The researchers found no significant difference between the massaged leg and the control leg (Wenos et al., 1990).
- Hilbert had 18 volunteers perform hamstring exercises to induce DOMS. The participants were then separated into two groups. The first group received a massage consisting of 5 min of effleurage, 1 min of tapotement, 12 min of petrissage, followed by 2 min of effleurage. The second group received a sham massage, which involved the therapist rubbing lotion on the participants’ legs and having them rest for the remaining 20 min. The massage was performed 2 h after exercise. Researchers found no significant differences in ROM, inflammatory markers or mood. They did discover that the group receiving the real massage reported a decrease in the intensity of soreness 48 h after exercise (Hilbert and Kimura, 2003).
- Farr and colleagues investigated the effects of a 30 min massage to 8 participants after walking downhill for 40 min. One leg received the treatment 2 h after exercise, while the other leg received no treatment. Muscle soreness, strength, and single leg vertical jump height were measured at multiple points in time after exercise. The intervention group had reduced soreness and tenderness; measures of strength showed no improvement compared to the control leg (Farr et al., 2002).
- Jakeman and others studied the effect of combining massage and the use of compressive clothing. Subjects performed 100 plyometric drop jumps and were assigned to one of three groups; a passive recovery group, a group which received a 30 min massage (performed immediately after exercise) followed by wearing compression stockings for 11.5 h, and a compression group which wore the stockings for 12 h after exercise. The combination group showed significantly less soreness at 48 and 72 h after exercise compared to the compression group and the passive recovery group. Both treatment groups had similar positive effects on isokinetic muscle strength, squat jump performance, and countermovement performance compared to the passive group (Jackeman et al., 2010).
So Does Massage Improve Soreness
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- Best, T., Hunter, R., Wilcox, A., Haq, F., 2008. Effectiveness of sports massage for recovery of skeletal muscle from strenuous exercise. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine 18 (5), 446e460.
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- Crane, J., Ogborn, D., Cupido, C., Melov, S., Hubbard, A., 2012. Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise induced muscle damage. Science Translational Medicine 4 (119), 119ra13.
- Dessem, D., Ambalavanar, R., Evancho, M., Yallampalli, A., Moutanni, C., Bai, G., 2010. Eccentric muscle contraction and stretching evoke mechanical hyperalgesia and modulate CGRP and P2X(3) expression in a functionally relevant manner. Pain 149 (2), 284e329.
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- Farr, T., Nottle, C., Nosaka, K., Sacco, P., 2002. The effects of therapeutic massage on delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle function following downhill walking. Journal of Science and Medicine and Sport 5, 297e306.
- Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C., 2005. Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience 115 (10), 1397e1413.
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- Haas, C., Butterfield, T., Abshire, S., Zhoa, Y., Zhang, X., Jarjoura, D., Best, T., 2012. Massage timing affects postexercise muscle recovery and inflammation in a rabbit model. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
- Hemmings, B., Smith, M., Graydon, J., 2000. Effects of massage on physiological restoration, perceived recovery, and repeated sports performance. British Journal of Sports Medicine 34, 109e115.
- Hilbert, D., Kimura, I., 2003. The effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness. British Journal of Sports Medicine 37, 72e75.
- Hinds, T., McEwan, I., Perkes, J., 2004. Effects of massage on limb active recovery on the resynthesis of muscle glycogen. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 36, 1308e1313.
- Jakeman, J., Byrne, C., Eston, R., 2010. Efficacy of lower limb compression and combined treatment of manual massage and lower limb compression on symptoms of exercise induced muscle damage in women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24 (11), 3157e3165.
- Krohn, M., Listing, M., Tjahjono, G., Reisshauer, A., Peters, E., Klapp, B., Rauchfuss, M., 2011. Depression, mood, stress, and Th1/Th2 immune balance in primary breast cancer patients undergoing classical massage therapy. Support Care Cancer 19 (9), 1303e1311.
- Lee, H.M., Wu, S.K., You, J.Y., 2009. Quantitative application of transverse friction massage and its neurological effects of flexor carpi radialis. Manual Therapy 14 (5), 501e507.
- Manicelli, C., Scott Davis, D., Aboulhosn, L., Brady, Eisenhofer, J., Foutty, S., 2006. The effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness and physical performance in female collegiate athletes. Physical Therapy in Sport 7, 5e13.
- Moyer, C., Rounds, J., Hannum, J., 2004. A meta-analysis of massage therapy research. Psychological Bulletin 130 (1), 3e18.
- Moyer, C., Seefeldt, L., Mann, E., Jackley, L., 2011. Does massage therapy reduce cortisol? A comprehensive quantitative review. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 15, 3e14.
- Micklewright, D., 2009. The effect of sort tissue release on delayed onset muscle soreness: a pilot study. Physical Therapy in Sport 10 (1), 19e24.
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- Nosaka, K., Newton, M., Sacco, P., 2002. Delayed onset muscle soreness does not reflect the magnitude of eccentric exercisedinduced muscle damage. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 12, 337e346.
- Paddon-Jones, D., Keech, A., Lonergan, A., Abernethy, P., 2005. Differential expression of muscle damage in humans following acute fast and slow velocity eccentric exercise. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 8 (3), 255e263.
- Peake, J., Nosaka, K., Suzuki, K., 2005. Characterization of inflammatory responses to eccentric exercise in humans. Exercise Immunology Review 11, 64e85.
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- Rapaport, M., Schettler, P., Bresee, C., 2010. A preliminary study of the effects of a single session of Swedish massage on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and immune function in normal individuals. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 10, 1e10.
- Rodenburg, J., Steenbeek, D., Bar, P., 1994. Warm-up, stretching and massage diminish harmful effects of eccentric exercise. International Journal of Sports Medicine 15 (7), 414e419.
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- Smith, L., Keating, M., Holbert, D., Spratt, D., McCammon, M., 1994. The effects of athletic massage on delayed onset muscle soreness, creatine kinase, and neutrophil count: a preliminary report. Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy 19, 93e99.
- Starbuck, C., Eston, 2012. Exercise induced muscle damage and the repeated bout effect: evidence for cross transfer. European Journal of Applied Physiology 112 (3), 1001e1013.
- Trost, Z., Fance, C., Thomas, J., 2011. Pain-related fear and avoidance of physical exertion following delayed onset muscle soreness. Pain 152 (7), 1540e1547.
- Torres, R., Ribeiro, F., Duarte, A., Cabri, J., 2012. Evidence of the physiotherapeutic interventions used currently after exerciseinduced muscle damage: systematic review and meta-analysis. Physical Therapy in Sport 13 (2), 101e114.
- Vila-Cha, C., Hassanlove, H., Farina, D., Falla, D., 2012. Eccentric exercise and delayed onset muscle soreness of the quadriceps induce adjustments in agonist-antagonist activity, which are dependent on the motor task. Experimental Brain Research 216 (3), 385e395.
- Vlaeyen, J., Linton, S., 2000. Fear avoidance and its consequences in chronic musculoskeletal pain: a state of the art. Pain 85 (3), 317e332.
- Wenos, J., Brilla, L., Morrison, M., 1990. Effect of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 22, S34.
- Wiltshire, E., Poitras, V., Pak, M., Hong, T., Rayner, J., Tschakovsky, M., 2010. Massage impairs postexercise muscle blood flow and “lactic acid” removal. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 42 (6), 1062e1071.
- Yu, J., Carlsson, L., Thornell, L., 2004. Evidence for myofibril remodeling as opposed to myofibril damage in human muscles with DOMS: an ultrastructural and immunoelectron microscopic study. Histochemistry and Cell Biology 121, 219e227.
- Zainuddin, Z., Newton, M., Sacco, P., Nosaka, K., 2005. Effects of massage of delayed onset muscle soreness, swelling, and recovery of muscle function. Journal of Athletic Training 40 (3), 174e180.