What Does Scientific Research Say About Sports Massage?

sports massage


Of all the therapies and treatments that collaborate in the recovery of bone or muscle disorders, sports massage was always the best and fastest option, before, during, and after a competition.

Sports massage conceptualizes a group of massage techniques, with specific objectives such as preparing the tissues of the muscles before physical effort at the same time as anticipating future injuries or, in any case, recovering from them. Especially when we compete.

A Little History

Sports massage itself was born in ancient Greece and is strongly linked to physical education, which includes energetic, pre-competitive, and recovery massages. Galen, the well-known doctor of the ancient gladiators, described the massage techniques used to this day.

The Method

According to the scientific study called “Massage and Performance Recovery: A Meta-Analytical Review”, a while back, describes the effectiveness of the practice.

As we well know, post-exercise massage has a very common intervention to try to improve and recover athletes, however, at present, scientific evidence on the effects of massages on sports recovery is scarce.

On the other hand, it has not yet been concluded under what type of conditions massage would be more effective, therefore, the look of the following study can perform a systematic review and a meta-analysis of the available literature on massage for performance recovery.

A randomized structured bibliographic search was carried out, analyzing 22 controlled trials, these were studied regarding the effects on performance and the various characteristics of the study design, such as:

  • Type and duration of the massage
  • Effects of massage after performing an activity
  • Training level of the participants

Massages Will Help You:

  • Take on the competition with your muscles ready and with less overload to increase resistance
  • Reduce muscle fatigue
  • Oxygenate the muscles causing vasodilation
  • Reduce the risk of inflammation and pain that may appear during a competition
  • Reduce muscle hyper tone, cramps, spasms, or stiffness

Results of the Study

Of 1,123 previously selected articles, only 22 were included with 250 participants, 5 of these articles used automated massage techniques, such as vibrations, while the remaining 17 used “classic manual massage”, usually performed with experienced physiotherapists, using as main techniques effleurage and kneading, which in turn combine with friction, vibrations, and percussion.

Trends of Classic Manual Massage Results

  • Short-duration techniques, from 5 to 12 minutes, generate more effects, around 7% than the longer-duration massage, around 12 minutes or more. This only generates a 1% benefit.
  • Short-term recovery, up to 10 minutes, generates effects around 8% than recovery periods of more than 20 minutes.
  • When the massage is applied after strength exercises and combined resistance is when the greatest benefits are obtained, around 14%, however, after strength exercises only, the improvement by 4% and this improvement decreases to 1 % when the massage is applied after resistance exercises.

As something curious, we can comment that the untrained subjects are mostly benefited by the massage, obtaining a 6 percent improvement more than the trained athletes, who only obtain a 2 percent improvement.

By way of summary and quoting the conclusions, the effects of massage on performance recovery are small but may be relevant when the massage and the correct technique are applied in appropriate circumstances.

For example, after high-intensity exercises, in short-term recovery [analyzing the effects of the massage just after applying it (<10 minutes)] or with combined exercises with strength and resistance and, above all, applying short-term massages.


While more results from new studies have yet to be evaluated, it is key to highlight sports massage as an ally of competitive performance. We encourage you to follow good practices and take advantage of this discipline.

Always look for a physiotherapist who can advise you on the best ways to overcome sports injuries and have proper care for high-intensity exercise. Visit Miracle Rehab Clinic to find out more on how physical therapy can help you: https://www.miraclerehabclinic.com/

About Theresa Duncan

Originally from Detroit, MI, Theresa has been offering health and fitness advice for the last 30 years while working as an engineer. She decided to turn her passion into a profession, and finds nothing more satisfying than helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

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