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Massage and postexercise recovery: the science is emerging
  1. Thomas M Best1,2,
  2. Scott K Crawford1,2
  1. 1 University of Miami UHealth Sports Medicine, Miami, FL, USA
  2. 2 Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Scott K Crawford, Nebraska Athletic Performance Lab, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, 68588, USA; crawford.606{at}

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Athletes use a variety of postexercise recovery techniques with the belief that they are effective at enhancing return to competition and training. Common modalities include massage, cold water immersion, compression, electrical stimulation, vibration therapy and a combination of one or more of these strategies. Other approaches include diet and hydration protocols, active recovery and sleep. Despite their popularity, the evidence for the effectiveness of most of these modalities is rather limited, although recent efforts are advancing their science which should help in the recommendation of optimal indications and protocols.

The scientific literature on postexercise massage has accelerated in the last decade. A number of clinical and animal studies have addressed biological plausibility. Clinical studies have investigated the long-held claims that massage mediates leucocyte migration and attenuates the inflammatory response to exercise,1 as well as decreases pain, muscle tone and hyperactivity.2 These reports suggest that massage mediates molecular processes linked to inflammation, specifically by …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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