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Validity of Sports Massage

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Submitted By dizzle5
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The Validity of Sports Massage Treatments with Regards To Current Practices

Therapeutic sports massage in the context of sports specific injuries and rehabilitation, has been said to not only improve the physical attributes of certain structures and muscles within the human body, but to also have a strong psychological effect for an individual helping them overcome injury or increasing their injury prevention rate while helping to optimise performance (Galloway, 2004). In light of this it can be assumed that every person irrespective of whether they play sport or not, would benefit highly from some form of massage therapy (Alvarado, 2002).

To assess whether or not sports massage is an effective method of treatment or is in actual fact just a psychological treatment that has no real impact on the body, it is necessary to observe and evaluate the conducted research of current practitioners and other researchers that provide valid arguments to either strengthen or weaken the claim for more massage to be performed. The proposed benefits and hindrances will need to be highlighted within recent literature alongside the credibility of the sources that the research is derived from, as only if a source is deemed to be reliable can the research be seen as potential evidence to back up discussed points and reasoning. This review of literature will also set out to identify any potential future research points that could be taken to highlight and eradicate gaps in the current literature.

Table 1 Author | Year | Participants | Study Design | Search Terms | Findings | Age | Title | Jonhagen et al | 2004 | 16 | To test recovery periods of equally active quadriceps, with one having sports massage post event and the other having no treatment. | Sports, Massage, quadriceps, treatment | Sports massage could not improve recovery after eccentric exercise | 20-38 | Sports Massage After Eccentric Exercise | Kokkonen, J. Allred, J | 2002 | 11 | To measure changes in strength and flexibility due to a chronic sports massage treatment. | Sports, massage, treatment, flexibility | The MASSAGE leg demonstrated higher strength and flexibility gains than the NO-MASSAGE leg. | 18-30 | The Effects Of Chronic Sports Massage On Strength And Flexibility | Coles et al | 2005 | 17 (6m), (11f) | To determine the effect pre-competition sports massage has on range of motion (ROM), peak isokinetic torque (PIT), and time to peak isokinetic torque (TPIT) of the quadriceps muscle group in comparison to a no massage (control) condition. | Sports, Massage, Treatment, Range of motion | Range of movement increased after Sports Massage, no difference in peak isokinetic torque after massage or time to peak isokinetic torque. | 20-24 | Effect Of Sports Massage On Range Of Motion, Peak Torque, And Time To Peak Torque | Wiltshire et al | 2010 | 12 | This study tested the hypothesis that one of the ways sports massage aids muscle recovery from exercise is by increasing muscle blood flow to improve "lactic acid" removal. | Sports, Massage, Treatment, Lactic Acid | Massage impairs La- and H+ removal from muscle after strenuous exercise by mechanically impeding blood flow. | 23-25 | Massage Impairs Postexercise Muscle Blood Flow and "Lactic Acid" Removal |

As there are a large number of studies that have been completed with regards to this particular field of interest, it is essential that the studies which will prove to be more informative and accurate with the results required for this observation need to be limited to particular ranges when searched for. To ensure that this is objective is accurately achieved, a literature matrix has been devised (Table 1). This matrix shows a detailed breakdown of the journals and studies that have been deemed to be the most appropriate for these research purposes. Search criteria has been narrowed down to ensure results fall into the categories of; date of study between 2000- present, participants between 10-30, ages between 18-40 and study design or results to have some relevance to performance of participants after receiving post event or post exercise massage treatments. Key words also used to gain the most appropriate results were; sports, massage, treatment, flexibility, range of motion, quadriceps and lactic acid.

It seems relevant to begin to analyse the literature in a chronological order, as new techniques and research methods are being developed or discovered every day. With this in mind it proves that methods that may be found more recently will provide more areas for discussion when relating to concepts of sports massage than those methods that are quite out dated.

The first study completed was one by Kokkonen (2002) and this explored the effects of chronic sports massage of strength and flexibility within an individual. With the results gathered it seemed that the effects of massage had a significant influence on the increase of strength and flexibility on limbs that had received the treatment, but in certain areas
Kokkonen has been very vague in the study. Kokkonen has decided on the method of treatment being given to either the right or left leg while the other remains as a control to measure results against, it has not been researched as to whether a person’s dominant leg is receiving treatment or not. This could lead to obscured results as if the dominant leg is not being treated then muscles will not have anywhere near full potential for strength measurements when tested as they will have overuse symptoms.

Kokkonen has completed 2 other studies (1996, 2008) that have both administered the test conditions on a specific leg, while the other leg remains untested. Again no consideration into leg dominance has been identified and this may lead researchers to believe that the author is very limited in his testing techniques, and does not take into consideration any variables that may have an effect on the results gained.

The study does not define at what point massage is being administered whether it be pre or post event, whereas Coles et al (2005), has clearly observed that while massage post event has shown that joints will receive a higher range of motion, it has no effect of peak torque production. The participants were randomly chosen and no other details have been recorded for them with regards to height, weight, sex, sporting history or injury history. Coles et al
(2005) have screened the participants for their study thoroughly beforehand to identify the level of activeness within the group and chose to show that both male and female participants were involved in the study.

Fitts (2008) highlights how essential it is to promote removal of lactic acid from exercised muscles, as the build-up of such presences gave a substantial increase in muscle fatigue. A study by Wiltshire et al (2010) into the possible negative responses to lactic acid removal and muscle blood flow from active massage therapy has highlighted that although the immediate thought by therapists is to perform massage to increase vasodilation to body parts which in theory should reduce lactic acid in the affected area (Callaghan 1993), the results that were produced have shown an insignificant reduction in lactic acid levels via massage.

Although the statement produced by Fitts (2008) seems to provide a sound logic towards promoting attributes in muscles, the previous studies completed have all been relevant towards studies based on space stations or micro gravity experiments. With this in mind it may be deemed that the credibility of the authors work towards effective sports related theories is inconclusive. Although the work produced should not be dismissed completely, it should only be considered to be a contributing factor to other research conducted and not an intermittent factor in deciding the positive or negative effect of massage associated with lactic acid removal.

With Jonhagen (2004) stating a theory that massage is actually perceived as a viable method to reducing the risk of an athlete or performer receiving delayed onset muscle soreness
(DOMS), this is a study that needs to be examined in more depth. The testing that has been conducted is solely focused towards the performance of eccentric types of exercise, where the muscle lengthens under specific amounts of tension or force. Eccentric loading is known for its muscle building properties (Ochi, 2006) through forcing the actin and myosin fibres to work harder to perform the contraction required, therefore promoting bigger growth than that of concentric loading. But what Jonhagen fails to state is that DOMS is predominately acquired from eccentric training but can also occur from concentric training. Alongside this although the tests have been performed on subjects lower limbs, no attempt has been made to investigate the effects of massage on upper limb parts. Lower limbs are constantly in use in day to day activities such as walking, whereas upper limbs are generally dormant in everyday life until needed so the test conducted may have obscure results as some individuals may walk to the test centre, others may drive and in so doing will have used the limbs more or less than other subjects.

From the research conducted around the areas of sports massage it is shown that yes the effects of sports massage on individuals who have been training are positive, but there are many gaps in the literature that need to be highlighted and addressed. To get an informed view on the process and all effects the treatment has then every eventuality should be taken into consideration and researched in as much depth as possible.

Reference List
Alvarado, C., Chamness, A., (2002) Massage therapy. Integrative Cancer Therapies, p1-2
Callaghan, MJ. (1993) The role of massage in the management of the athlete: a review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol 27, pp 28-33
Coles, M; Jones-Harvey, V; Greer, F; Gilbert, W. (2005) Effect of sports massage on range of motion, peak torque, and time to peak torque. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Vol 37, pp 264.
Fitts, RH. (2008) The cross-bridge cycle and skeletal muscle fatigue. Journal of Applied Physiology 2008. Vol 104, pp 551-558.
Galloway, SD; Watt, JM. (2004) Massage provision by physiotherapists at major athletics events between 1987 and 1998. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol 38, pp 235-236.
Jonhagen, S; Ackermann, P; Eriksson, T; Saartok, T; Renstrom, P. (2004) Sports massage after eccentric exercise. American Journal of Sports Medicine. Vol 32, pp 1499-1503.
Kokkonen, J; Allred, J. (2002) The effects of chronic sports massage on strength and flexibility. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Vol 34, pp 47.
Kokkonen, J; Nelson, AG. (1996) Acute stretching exercises inhibit maximal strength performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Vol 28, pp 190.
Kokkonen, J; Nelson, AG. (2008) Stretching one leg inhibits strength endurance performance of the contralateral unstretched leg. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Vol 40, pp 419.
Ochi, E; Nakazato, K; Ischii, N. (2006) Eccentric training causes muscular hypertrophy. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Vol 38, pp 276
Wiltshire, V; Poitras, V. (2010)Massage impairs post exercise muscle blood flow and lactic acid removal. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Vol 42, pp 1062-1071.


Reasonably clear writing style for the most part. Have used journal articles and have used the correct format for layout and referencing. Have attempted to critique.
Need to narrow down the topic area as the title was too broad an didn’t allow me to review anything n depth. Need to draw together the assignment in the conclusion which wasn’t done. Didn’t review the psychological effects of sports massage at all, yet it was highlighted in as one of the effects in the intro.
Need to undertake an appropriate literature search, there were very few articles reviewed on the effects of sports massage, ( 4 in total on different areas), so this precluded from making any informed critique of the area.
Try to avoid using unsubstantiated statements.
Put literature matrix in the appendices not the main body.

Page 4 – justify your inclusion criteria, (key words)
How does it prove??
Sentence doesn’t make sense – chronic sports massage
If the power output pre and post massage treatment was compared on the same leg then this isn’t a flaw as the results are compared on the same leg.

Page 6 – eccentric training is used because it is known to induce doms and therefore a reliable method to standardise the training effects for participants in order to compare the effects of massage.
Upper limbs quote – separate study needed to investigate this as it is not appropriate to do this while looking at lower limbs.…...

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