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Effect Massage on
Muscle Fatigue and Recovery

The Effect of Massage on Muscle Fatigue and RecoveryClinic

The Effect of Massage on Muscle Fatigue and Recovery

Tim Hideaki Tanaka, Ph.D., RMT 1,2, Prof. Hidetoshi Mori 2, Gerald Leisman, MD, Ph.D.3, Kazushi Nishijo, Ph.D. 2

  1. The Pacific Wellness Institute, Toronto, Ontario
  2. Tsukuba College of Technology, Ibaragi, Japan
  3. TouroCollege, School of Health Sciences, Bayshore, New York

Objective:  To evaluate the efficacy of massage stimulation on muscle fatigue

Design:  Multi factorial 2 X 2 X 2 crossover study

Setting: The Pacific Wellness Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Participants:  29 healthy subjects (male: n=16, female: n=13) with no history of low back pain participated in the study.  Their mean age was 26 (SD ±3.13).  Their mean body mass index was 22.65 (SD ±2.92).

Intervention: All subjects participated in two experimental sessions.  On each test day, subjects were asked to lie in prone position on a treatment table with their hands crossed behind their head.  Subjects were instructed to slowly extend their trunks until the inferior portion of their rib cage no longer rested on the table, hold this position for 90 seconds then slowly return to the resting position.  Subjects then received massage on the lumbar region or rested for a 5 minute duration, then performed the back extension movement in the same manner.  Lumbar electromyographic signals were recorded during the entire
sustained back extension at a rate of 1000 samples per second.

Main outcome Measures: The 2 seconds time segmental series of median frequency (MF) and mean power frequency (MPF) of the power density spectrum (PDS), and root mean square (RMS) amplitude of electromyographic signals during 90 seconds sustained lumbar muscle contraction were analyzed.  Additionally, the subjective feeling of fatigue was evaluated using the Visual Analog Scale (VAS).

Results: The data was analyzed using a 2 x 2 x 2 x 10 repeated measures, crossover design, ANOVA.  Mean and median EMG frequency significantly declined with time (during 90 seconds of back extension exercise) under all conditions.  There was no significant difference in MF, MPF or RMS value change between before and after massage, or between rest and massage conditions.  The paired t-test indicated that there was a significant increase in fatigue VAS at the end of the 2nd back extension with rest condition (p < 0.01).  There was a significant difference in fatigue VAS change between massage and rest condition (p < 0.05). 

Conclusions: Although massage application showed some positive influence against the subject’s feeling of fatigue, no notable effect was observed on the PDS which has been shown to reflect the metabolic and electrical changes associated with fatigue.  Further physiological investigation is necessary to elucidate the possible effect of massage on muscle fatigue and recovery.


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