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J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Mar;23(2):638-44. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318196b6a6.

Massage after exercise--responses of immunologic and endocrine markers: a randomized single-blind placebo-controlled study.

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Department of Physical Therapy, University of Granada, High Performance Sports Center at Altitude, Sierra Nevada, Granada, Spain.


The effectiveness of massage for postexercise recovery remains unclear, despite numerous studies on this issue. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of massage on endocrine and immune functions of healthy active volunteers after intense exercise. After repeated Wingate tests, the effects of whole-body massage and placebo on salivary cortisol, immunoglobulin A (IgA), and total protein levels were compared using a between-group design. Sixty healthy active subjects (23 women, 37 men) underwent 2 exercise protocol sessions at least 2 weeks apart and at the same time of day. The first session familiarized participants with the protocol. In the second session, after a baseline measurement, subjects performed a standardized warm-up followed by three 30-second Wingate tests. After active recovery, subjects were randomly allocated to massage (40-minute myofascial induction) or placebo (40-minute sham electrotherapy) group. Saliva samples were taken before and after the exercise protocols and after recovery. In both groups, the exercise protocol induced a significant increase in cortisol (p < 0.001), decrease in salivary IgA (sIgA) (p < 0.001), and increase in total proteins (p = 0.01) in saliva. Generalized estimating equations showed a significant effect of massage on sIgA rate (p = 0.05), a tendency toward significant effect on salivary total protein levels (p = 0.10), and no effect on salivary flow rate (p = 0.55) or salivary cortisol (p = 0.39). The sIgA secretion rate was higher after the recovery intervention than at baseline among women in the massage group (p = 0.03) but similar to baseline levels among women in the placebo group (p = 0.29). Massage may favor recovery from the transient immunosuppression state induced by exercise in healthy active women, of particular value between high-intensity training sessions or competitions on the same day.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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