Send to

Choose Destination
Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2015 Oct;25(5):e490-6. doi: 10.1111/sms.12341. Epub 2014 Dec 8.

Massage induces an immediate, albeit short-term, reduction in muscle stiffness.

Author information

Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Family Medicine Research Centre, Örebro County Council, Örebro, Sweden.
School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden.
Laboratory "Motricité, Interactions, Performance" (EA 4334), University of Nantes, Nantes, France.
School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Using ultrasound shear wave elastography, the aims of this study were: (a) to evaluate the effect of massage on stiffness of the medial gastrocnemius (MG) muscle and (b) to determine whether this effect (if any) persists over a short period of rest. A 7-min massage protocol was performed unilaterally on MG in 18 healthy volunteers. Measurements of muscle shear elastic modulus (stiffness) were performed bilaterally (control and massaged leg) in a moderately stretched position at three time points: before massage (baseline), directly after massage (follow-up 1), and following 3 min of rest (follow-up 2). Directly after massage, participants rated pain experienced during the massage. MG shear elastic modulus of the massaged leg decreased significantly at follow-up 1 (-5.2 ± 8.8%, P = 0.019, d = -0.66). There was no difference between follow-up 2 and baseline for the massaged leg (P = 0.83) indicating that muscle stiffness returned to baseline values. Shear elastic modulus was not different between time points in the control leg. There was no association between perceived pain during the massage and stiffness reduction (r = 0.035; P = 0.89). This is the first study to provide evidence that massage reduces muscle stiffness. However, this effect is short lived and returns to baseline values quickly after cessation of the massage.


Shear elastic modulus; calf; elastography; tension

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center