April 21, 2014 — A recently published study in The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy demonstrated the effectiveness of an inexpensive, easy-to-use massage tool on reducing hamstring muscle soreness after high intensity exercise. The study, conducted at the National Research Centre for the Working Environment in Copenhagen, Denmark, investigated the acute effect of massage with the TheraBand Roller Massager+ on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
DOMS, often observed in athletes, is a common consequence of unaccustomed exercise or overtraining especially with the inclusion of extensive eccentric contractions. The presence of DOMS inhibits muscle activity or motor performance for up to several days following the initiating event. One of the major symptoms of DOMS is muscle pain and stiffness, which can cause inhibition of force production of the involved muscle. Treatments such as ice, stretching, exercise, and massage have been recommended to reduce DOMS, but the research remains unclear on how to best to manage DOMS.
Myofascial rolling has become popular in fitness for both warm-up and recovery, but published research remains scarce. This study involved 22 healthy untrained men performing high volume stiff-legged dead lifts to induce DOMS of both hamstrings.
“In addition to sports performance, soreness, pain, and stiffness of muscles and joints can interfere with work and activities of daily living for millions of individuals,” stated Lars L. Andersen, PhD, professor with the National Research Centre for the Working Environment. “Because of this, we elected to use non-athletes in this study so that the results would be meaningful and transferable to a larger population base.”
Approximately 48 hours after performing the DOMS-inducing exercise, the 22 participants were asked to rate the level of their hamstring muscle soreness. Hamstring flexibility and hip flexion range of motion (ROM) and pressure pain threshold (PPT) were also recorded. Each participant was subsequently randomly assigned to either a roller massage treatment group or a control group. The TheraBand Roller Massager group received a roller massage for 10 minutes on one hamstring with moderate pressure at one to two seconds per stroke. The other hamstring remained untreated.
Study participants that received the roller massage treatment had significantly less soreness and tenderness compared to the control group. There was no significant difference in flexibility between groups.
“Our research team concluded that the massage administered with a TheraBand Roller Massager+ had a soreness reducing effect to the affected hamstring,” continued Andersen. “Interestingly, there was also a significant reduction in pain in the non-treated hamstring, suggesting a central nervous system or cross over effect of the Roller Massager+ on DOMS pain.”
Source: Performance Health
Jay K, et al. Specific and cross over effects of massage for muscle soreness: randomized controlled trial. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2014. 9(1):82-91.