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Role of massage and stretching in recovery from exercise and in delayed onset muscle soreness.

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Adequate recovery from intense exercise is essential to optimise performance and reduce the associated symptoms of tiredness, fatigue and lethargy. The purpose of the study was to :- i. investigate the effects of massage and stretching in delaying the development of fatigue during repeated bouts of dynamic activity and, ii. to investigate the relative effects of massage and stretching on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Eighteen volunteer males participated in this study. They were randomly allocated into one of six groups of an Orthogonal Latin square design. Subjects performed five repetitions of as many heel raises as possible in 45 seconds. Each repetition was followed by a recovery technique of three minutes duration. This was repeated weekly until each group has had all three recovery techniques. A fatigue index % was calculated from the decline in the number of repetitions from stage 1 to stage 5. Muscle soreness ratings were retrospectively assessed at 12-36 hour after each session. An analysis of variance showed a significant difference in the fatigue indices. Post hoc intergroup comparison using paired T-tests with the Bonferroni adjustment showed a significant difference between rest and massage (p=0.0001) and rest and stretching (p=0.0006). The differences between massage and stretching were not significant. Fourteen (77.8%) and Fifteen (83.3%) subjects showed an improvement in performance following massage and stretching respectively. Massage is associated with significantly less muscle soreness than stretching (p<0,001). DOMS was most frequently found in the stretching group while the lowest incidence and lowest mean ratings of muscle soreness associated with DOMS was found in the massage group. The difference between massage and stretching was marginal (p=046I) and showed a trend that massage is associated with less DOMS than stretching. This suggests that rest is the least beneficial recovery technique, and that massage may be superior to stretching as there is less muscle soreness.


Thesis (M.Med.Sc.)-University of Natal, 1997.


Exercise--Physiological aspects., Exercise therapy., Massage therapy., Stretching exercises., Exercise--Health aspects., Theses--Physiotherapy.