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Dr Hemmings and his colleagues have made innovative use of a Kistler force plate to provide functionally relevant data on boxing performance. Previous massage studies have used cyclists and runners, probably because performance was easier to evaluate and possibly because of the place of massage in cycling folklore. Therefore this analysis on a different set of athletes and performance parameters is welcome.
There are a couple of observations. Firstly, punching force in performance 2 was decreased by 2% whether or not the boxer received massage. This highlights the fact that whereas there are physiological strategies available to help an athlete recover from the last performance and prepare for the next performance, massage does not appear to be one of them. Secondly, although massage had a minimal effect on physiological and performance parameters, the boxers themselves felt better after the massage intervention. This indicates that of the physiological, psychological, and performance outcome measures, 20 minutes of effleurage massage was found only to affect the second of these. As the authors concede, these findings should be regarded as preliminary but suggests that there is some relation between psychological and performance parameters which merits further investigation.
The removal of lactate has long been proposed by masseurs as a rationale for their techniques. This study has shown massage to be no different from passive recovery in removal of blood lactate. This finding, along with similar results of other research in runners,1 should finally lay this particular ghost to rest.
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