Effect of sports massage on performance and recovery
Current evidence suggests that massage does not lead to a significant improvement in performance measures (sprint, jump, strength, endurance, flexibility, or fatigue). However, in comparison with no intervention, this systematic review noted a small benefit in delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) delay or prevention and in flexibility.
Sports massage is extremely common in both elite and amateur settings. It also constitutes a large service industry composed of both professionals and devices which propose improved recovery and performance. However, massage is associated with high financial costs and time consumption, which makes it crucial to understand what its benefits and limitations are.
This systematic review and meta-analysis included 29 randomised studies involving 1012 participants. The performance and recovery measures used were sprint, jump, strength, endurance, flexibility, fatigue, and DOMS, with a separate meta-analysis performed for each measure. Study heterogeneity was assessed by calculating the I2 value.
Although this is the largest meta-analysis on the effect of sports massage on performance and recovery to date, it still contains important limitations. There were a wide range of massage techniques and study protocols in the included studies, which limits the effect sizes of the comparisons.
Moreover, some of the significant effects seen (in flexibility and DOMS) originated from studies with high heterogeneity and are influenced by single outlier studies. The effect in DOMS is also affected by placebo effect given its subjectivity.
The results of this review therefore suggests that those working with athletes should reconsider the use of massage and what should be expected of it. Optimal parameters of massage (technique, duration) remain to be established.
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This is an interesting review which prompts us to look critically at the huge importance given to massage in the sport setting. While it is unlikely to lead to an overnight drastic change in the 'massage culture', the objective effects of massage should be seen as limited.
This does not mean, however, that an athlete may not subjectively feel better after the massage and therefore perform better. What it does tell us, is to manage expectations and not necessarily see it as a necessity.
It is worth checking further details about the effect in each measure since the review is accessible as a free full text.
> Da: Davis et al., BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med 6 (2020) e000614. Tutti i diritti sono riservati a: The Author(s). Clicca qui per vedere il riassunto su Pubmed. Tradotto da .