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The effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness
  1. J E Hilbert,
  2. G A Sforzo,
  3. T Swensen
  1. Correspondence to:
 Thomas Swensen, PhD, Department of Exercise & Sport Sciences, Center for Health Sciences, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA;


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the physiological and psychological effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

Methods: Eighteen volunteers were randomly assigned to either a massage or control group. DOMS was induced with six sets of eight maximal eccentric contractions of the right hamstring, which were followed 2 h later by 20 min of massage or sham massage (control). Peak torque and mood were assessed at 2, 6, 24, and 48 h postexercise. Range of motion (ROM) and intensity and unpleasantness of soreness were assessed at 6, 24, and 48 h postexercise. Neutrophil count was assessed at 6 and 24 h postexercise.

Results: A two factor ANOVA (treatment v time) with repeated measures on the second factor showed no significant treatment differences for peak torque, ROM, neutrophils, unpleasantness of soreness, and mood (p > 0.05). The intensity of soreness, however, was significantly lower in the massage group relative to the control group at 48 h postexercise (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Massage administered 2 h after exercise induced muscle injury did not improve hamstring function but did reduce the intensity of soreness 48 h after muscle insult.

  • massage
  • muscle soreness

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