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n International SportMed Journal - The role of massage in the treatment of delayed onset muscle soreness : a brief review : review article
Objective : The literature on the physiological and psychological effects of massage as it relates to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) was reviewed.
Data sources : The electronic databases MEDLINE and SPORTDiscus were searched from their inception until January 2004 with the keywords : massage, muscle, and soreness.
Study section : The relevant articles were retrieved, respective bibliographies for additional resources reviewed, and manuscripts that were in English, peer reviewed, and whose research design included a control group and classical massage techniques were used.
Data extraction : Extracted data addressed massage's putative ability to alter circulation, inflammation, muscle function, and psychological well-being after exercised induced muscle damage. Eight studies met inclusion criteria; their data were analysed qualitatively.
Data synthesis : Classical massage reduced muscle soreness across approximately 75% of the reviewed articles, many of which found this reduction despite low statistical power, consequent to small sample sizes. Massage did not, however, appear to alter muscle function and inflammation, the latter measured by changes in the circulating neutrophil count or leg volumes. The effects of massage on circulatory and psychological variables have been studied less frequently; hence, it is difficult to draw meaningful conclusions.
Conclusions : Despite nearly 75% of the data showing reduced muscle soreness, only one study found that massage improved muscle function, and this improvement did not occur in all the administered functional tests. Future research is needed to better understand the functional significance of reduced muscle soreness. Additionally, to further assess the effects of massage on DOMS, researchers should measure changes in endorphins, stress hormones, mood states, and multi-dimensional aspects of pain.
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