Athletes and coaches are constantly fine tuning their training strategies in order to develop a competitive edge. The use of therapeutic modalities, such as thermal agents, electrical stimulation, and deep tissue massage are often performed for this purpose. Despite the frequency that massage treatments are performed, only a few studies exist in the literature that have investigated the effect of massage on sports performance
Massage Effects – what we know
- Reviews of studies on flexibility show massage didn’t make a significant difference how ever there was a perceived difference. There are limited studies. The ones we have a small number of participants.
- Reviews of studies on lactic acid clearance show massage in some cases can increase lactic acid after exercise. This is an interesting result. Boxers, in particular, had a perceived benefit from the session. Clearance of lactic acid occurs about 1 hour after exercise, with or without massage.
- Reviews of studies on using various forms of treatments for sports injuries show sports massage when used with other modalities help to speed healing vs. when massage is used alone. Failure to show benefit could be due to misalignment of joints such has hips, shoulders, ankles etc. which could produce repeated injury. This was noted in one case in a paper with a runner requiring a IT band release. We don’t know the exact technique used that if the correct one was used would have prevented the invasive procedure to fix her knee pain. Using various modalities seems obvious that there would be better results. This would include nutrition, rest, stretching, adequate sleep etc.
Conclusion: Larger sample sizes and better design of the studies need to be done on deep tissue massage and sports massage benefits. Stay tuned for more updates.