Delayed onset muscle soreness has been consistently studied, and special attention has been given to possible techniques capable to prevent it or to accelerate muscle recovery. This study aimed to assess the acute effects of classic muscle massage before a session of strength training on biochemical markers of delayed onset muscle soreness.
Twenty-four healthy men with no history of strength training were randomized into two groups, one submitted to a classic muscle massage technique before strength training exercises (n=12; 23.54±1.94years, 21,57±2,64kg/m(2)); and a control group with no muscle massage before the strength training exercises (n=12; 22.57±1.65years, 22.25±1.23kg/m(2)). Classical manual massage was applied to muscle groups involved in strength exercises (biceps brachii and quadriceps femoris) with 10-min duration for each muscle group. Strength training session consisted in two exercises: elbow flexion and knee extension at an intensity of 85% of one maximum repetition (6 to 10 repetitions, four sets). Muscle damage biochemical markers (creatine kinase; lactate dehydrogenase, and C reactive protein) were assessed by venous blood samples from the antecubital vein before exercise (1st collect), immediately after exercise (2nd collect), 24 and 48 hours later (third and fourth collect). Experimental protocol was conducted in the laboratory of the Center of Experimental Design of the University Hospital Lauro Wanderley, Brazil.
No significant differences were observed between muscle massage before the strength training exercises and control for the creatine kinase (p=0.380), lactate dehydrogenase (p=0.700), and C reactive protein (p=0.292) at all moments.
The presents results suggest that delayed onset muscle soreness induced by two classical strength training exercises, is not prevented or attenuated by muscle massage before exercise.
Br J Sports Med. 2013 Jul;47(10):e3. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092558.54.
Acute effects of muscle massage previous to strength training on biochemical markers of delayed onset muscle soreness.
Garrido N, Oliveira G, Mendes R, Sousa N, Sousa M.
It’s a common belief that massage is the best for treating post-workout pain. However a new research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has found that massage and exercise had the same benefits.
Lars Andersen, the lead author of the study and a professor at the National Research Center for the Working Environment in Copenhagen, and his colleagues asked 20 women to do a shoulder exercise while hooked up to a resistance machine. The women shrugged their shoulders while the machine applied resistance, which engaged the trapezius muscle between the neck and shoulders. Two days later, the women came back to the lab with aching trapezius muscles. On average they rated their achiness as a five on a 10 point scale, up from 0.8 before they had done the shoulder work out.
Then the women received a 10-minute massage on one shoulder and did a 10-minute exercise on the other shoulder. Some women got the massage first, while others did the exercise first.
The exercise again involved shoulder shrugs; this time the women gripped an elastic tube held down by their foot to give some resistance. (Hygenic Corporation, which makes the tubing used in the study, supported the study.)
Andersen’s group found that, compared to the shoulder that wasn’t getting any attention, massage and exercise each helped diminish muscle soreness. The effect peaked 10 minutes after each treatment, with women reporting a reduction in their pain of 0.8 points after the warm up exercise and 0.7 points after the massage.
“It’s a moderate change,” said Andersen. He said he expects that athletes would notice a difference in having their soreness reduced by this amount.
“I think that for athletes…by reducing soreness then they’re able to perform better, but we didn’t measure this. But if you are sore your movements are very stiff and it’s difficult to perform,” he said.
Andersen said he’d like to see future studies track whether warming up the muscles to relieve soreness does indeed impact how well athletes perform.
The study suggests that “maybe (massage or exercise) has some benefit for individuals prior to an activity, even though the benefit may be short-lasting,” said Jason Brumitt, of the School of Physical Therapy at Pacific University, who was not involved in the research.
It’s not clear how massage or exercise would relieve soreness, but Brumitt said that it’s thought that they help to clear out metabolic byproducts associated with tissue damage.
Andersen recommends that people try light exercise to ease their pain. The effect is moderate, and only offers temporary relief, but the benefit of using exercise, Andersen said, is that it doesn’t require a trained therapist or travel time.
“If people go out and exercise and get sore they can find some relief in just warming up the muscles,” he said.
J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar 21.
Acute effects of massage or active exercise in relieving muscle soreness: Randomized controlled trial.
Massage is commonly believed to be the best modality for relieving muscle soreness. However, actively warming up the muscles with exercise may be an effective alternative. The purpose of this study was to compare the acute effect of massage with active exercise for relieving muscle soreness.
Twenty healthy female volunteers (mean age 32 years) participated in this examiner-blind randomized controlled trial (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01478451). Participants performed eccentric contractions for the upper trapezius muscle on a Biodex dynamometer.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) presented 48 hours (h) later, at which participants
1) received ten minutes (min) of massage of the trapezius muscle or
2) performed ten min of active exercise (shoulder shrugs 10 x 10 reps) with increasing elastic resistance (Thera-Band).
First, one treatment was randomly applied to one shoulder while the contralateral shoulder served as passive control. Two hours later the contralateral resting shoulder received the other treatment. Participants rated intensity of soreness (scale 0-10) and a blinded examiner took measures of pressure pain threshold (PPT) of the upper trapezius immediately before treatment and 0, 10, 20 and 60 min after treatment 48 h post eccentric exercise.
Immediately prior to treatment intensity of soreness was 5.0 (SD 2.2) and PPT was 138 (SD 78) kPa.
In response to treatment, a significant treatment by time interaction was found for intensity of soreness (P<0.001) and PPT (P<0.05).
Compared with control, both active exercise and massage significantly reduced intensity of soreness and increased PPT (i.e. reduced pain sensitivity). For both types of treatment the greatest effect on perceived soreness occurred immediately after treatment, while the effect on PPT peaked 20 min after treatment.
In conclusion, active exercise using elastic resistance provides similar acute relief of muscle soreness as compared with massage. Coaches, therapists and athletes can use either active warm-up or massage to reduce DOMS acutely, e.g. before competition or strenuous work, but should be aware that the effect is temporary, i.e. the greatest effects occurs during the first 20 min after treatment and diminishes within an hour.
Acute effects of massage or active exercise in relieving muscle soreness: Randomized controlled trial.
Andersen LL, Jay K, Andersen CH, Jakobsen MD, Sundstrup E, Topp R, Behm DG.
J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar 21. [Epub ahead of print]
Increased pain from muscle fascia following eccentric exercise: animal and human findings
GIBSON William (1) ; ARENDT-NIELSEN Lars (2) ; TAGUCHI Toru (1 3) ; MIZUMURA Kazue (3) ; GRAVEN-NIELSEN Thomas (2) ;
Experimental brain research 2009, vol. 194, no2, pp. 299-308
Mechanisms and structures which are involved in eccentric exercise-induced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) are not yet clarified. Tissue and site specificity may be important considerations in afferent sensitisation following eccentric exercise.
This study investigated the nociceptive response to hypertonic sodium solution applied to fascial/epimysium tissue and mechanically sensitised sites in muscle by assessing (1) afferent recordings in animals and (2) psychophysical assessment in humans. Seventeen male rats underwent eccentric contraction of extensor digitorum longus muscle, while 11 rats served as an unexercised naïve group. Two days post-exercise, group IV afferent fibre activity was recorded in response to superfusion of hypertonic Krebs solution on the mechanically sensitised muscle/epimysium site.
Mechanical sensitisation was confirmed with significant increases in afferent response and decreases in threshold to mechanical stimulation in the eccentrically exercised rats compared to naïve rats.
There was no difference in afferent response magnitude to hypertonic Krebs solution between exercise and naïve groups. In the human study, 13 volunteers participated. After bilateral assessment of pressure pain thresholds (PPT) along the tibialis anterior muscles, eccentric exercise was performed to induce DOMS in m. tibialis anterior of one leg. Site of maximal mechanical sensitivity was identified 24 h later and injected with hypertonic saline at fascial and deep muscle levels. The corresponding site on the opposite unexercised leg served as a control.
Fascial injection of the exercised muscle caused significantly higher pain intensity compared to all other injections. Response to deep muscle stimulation was not different between sides. This suggests that fascia rather than muscle tissue is important in DOMS associated sensitisation.
Effect of iTonic Whole-Body Vibration on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness Among Untrained Individuals.
J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Aug 10.
Rhea MR, Bunker D, Marín PJ, Lunt K.
Attempts to reduce or eliminate delayed-onset of muscle soreness are important as this condition is painful and debilitating. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of whole-body vibration (WBV) massage and stretching exercises at reducing perceived pain among untrained men. Sixteen adult men (age, 36.6 +/- 2.1 yr) volunteered to perform a strenuous exercise session consisting of resistance training and repeated sprints. Subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 recovery groups: a group performing WBV stretching sessions or a stretching group performing static stretching without vibration. Both groups performed similar stretches, twice per day for 3 days after the workout. The vibration group performed their stretches on the iTonic platform (frequency, 35 Hz; amplitude, 2 mm). Perceived pain was measured at 12, 24, 48, and 72 hours postworkout. Statistical analyses identified a significantly lower level of reported perceived pain at all postworkout measurement times among the WBV group (p < 0.05). No difference existed at the preworkout measurement time. The degree of attenuation of pain ranged from 22-61%. These data suggest that incorporating WBV as a recovery/regeneration tool may be effective for reducing the pain of muscle soreness and tightness after strenuous training.