Design and eligibility. We searched PubMed and MEDLINE for randomised studies that examined the effects of manual sports massage on performance and/or recovery. We conducted separate meta-analyses to determine the effects of manualmassage on strength, speed, endurance, flexibility and fatigue (DOMS).
Results There were 29 studies that could have been eligible, with 1012 participants. This is the largest study of the effects massage has had. There was no evidence to suggest that massage increases strength, jump, endurance, fatigue or speed. However, we did find statistically significant improvements in flexibility, DOMS, and flexibility.
Our study does not show that massage can directly improve performance, but it might improve flexibility and DOMS. These findings can be used to inform the athlete and coach about massage benefits and help them make informed decisions about how to incorporate it into their training and competition.
Current Evidence and Future Direction
- Sports Massage Background
A popular treatment option for athletes, coaches, and physical therapists is massage. Although massage is often used and has many benefits, there is not much evidence to support its effectiveness.
- Massage Scope
The purpose of this study is to identify the current literature on massage and its role as a psychological aid for athletes, in improving their performance and recovery from competition and treating sports-related musculoskeletal injury.
- Sports Massage Methods
To identify relevant papers for this review, electronic databases were used. Searches were made for the following keywords: massage, sport injuries, athletic injuries and rehabilitation, delayed-onset muscle soreness. Sports psychology, sports performance, massage, recovery, soft tissue mobilization. Deep transverse friction massage was also used, pre-event and post exercise.
- Massage Results
The following categories of research studies were reviewed and identified: pre-event (physiological, psychological variables), performance in sports, recovery, rehabilitation.
Even though clinical research has been done, there is still a lack of understanding about the clinical application of massage.
Sports Massage Conclusion
Further studies are needed to examine the psychological and physiological effects of massage in order for the sports physical therapist to develop and implement clinically relevant evidence-based programs and treatments.