Massage and performance recovery: a meta-analytical review

Poppendieck, Wigand, Wegmann, Melissa, Ferrauti, Alexander, Kellmann, Michael, Pfeiffer, Mark and Meyer, Tim (2016) Massage and performance recovery: a meta-analytical review. Sports Medicine, 46 2: 183-204. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0420-x

Author Poppendieck, Wigand
Wegmann, Melissa
Ferrauti, Alexander
Kellmann, Michael
Pfeiffer, Mark
Meyer, Tim
Title Massage and performance recovery: a meta-analytical review
Journal name Sports Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1179-2035
Publication date 2016-02-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1007/s40279-015-0420-x
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 46
Issue 2
Start page 183
End page 204
Total pages 22
Place of publication Auckland, New Zealand
Publisher Adis International
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Post-exercise massage is one of the most frequently applied interventions to enhance recovery of athletes. However, evidence to support the efficacy of massage for performance recovery is scarce. Moreover, it has not yet been concluded under which conditions massage is effective.

The objective of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available literature on massage for performance recovery.

We conducted a structured literature search and located 22 randomized controlled trials. These were analysed with respect to performance effects and various characteristics of the study design (type and duration of massage, type of exercise and performance test, duration of recovery period, training status of subjects).
Of the 22 studies, 5 used techniques of automated massage (e.g. vibration), while the other 17 used classic manual massage. A tendency was found for shorter massage (5–12 min) to have larger effects (+6.6 %, g = 0.34) than massage lasting more than 12 min (+1.0 %, g = 0.06). The effects were larger for short-term recovery of up to 10 min (+7.9 %, g = 0.45) than for recovery periods of more than 20 min (+2.4 %, g = 0.08). Although after high-intensity mixed exercise, massage yielded medium positive effects (+14.4 %, g = 0.61), the effects after strength exercise (+3.9 %, g = 0.18) and endurance exercise (+1.3 %, g = 0.12) were smaller. Moreover, a tendency was found for untrained subjects to benefit more from massage (+6.5 %, g = 0.23) than trained athletes (+2.3 %, g = 0.17).

The effects of massage on performance recovery are rather small and partly unclear, but can be relevant under appropriate circumstances (short-term recovery after intensive mixed training). However, it remains questionable if the limited effects justify the widespread use of massage as a recovery intervention in competitive athletes.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
School of Psychology Publications
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