Objective: To evaluate the effect of massage on force production and neuromuscular recruitment.
Methods: Ten healthy male subjects performed isokinetic concentric contractions on the knee extensors at speeds of 60, 120, 180, and 240°/s. These contractions were performed before and after a 30 minute intervention of either rest in the supine position or lower limb massage. Electromyography (EMG) and force data were captured during the contractions.
Results: The change in isokinetic mean force due to the intervention showed a significant decrease (p<0.05) at 60°/s and a trend for a decrease (p = 0.08) at 120°/s as a result of massage compared with passive rest. However, there were no corresponding differences in any of the EMG data. A reduction in force production was shown at 60°/s with no corresponding alteration in neuromuscular activity.
Conclusions: The results suggests that motor unit recruitment and muscle fibre conduction velocity are not responsible for the observed reductions in force. Although experimental confirmation is necessary, a possible explanation is that massage induced force loss by influencing “muscle architecture”. However, it is possible that the differences were only found at 60°/s because it was the first contraction after massage. Therefore muscle tension and architecture after massage and the duration of any massage effect need to be examined.
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Competing interests: none declared
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