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Effect of lower limb massage on electromyography and force production of the knee extensors
  1. A M Hunter,
  2. J M Watt,
  3. V Watt,
  4. S D R Galloway
  1. Department of Sports Studies, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 A M Hunter
 Department of Sports Studies, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, UK; a.m.hunter1{at}


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.

  • EMG, electromyography
  • MPFS, mean percentile frequency shift
  • MVC, maximal voluntary contraction
  • RMS, route mean square
  • massage
  • electromyography
  • mean percentile frequency shift
  • force
  • muscle architecture

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  • Competing interests: none declared