The Effects of Therapeutic Massage on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and Muscle Function Following Downhill Walking

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours


Faculty of Communications, Health and Science


This study investigated the effects of a therapeutic massage on delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle function following a bout of downhill walking. Eight healthy male subjects (aged 18-25 yrs) performed a 40 min downhill treadmill walk (-10 to 14% at comfortable speed). The subjects body mass was increased by 10% (weighted bum hag) prior to the commencement of the downhill walk. Muscle soreness, tenderness, Isometric extensors, and isokinetic knee extensor/flexor torque, single leg vertical, jump height and plasma creatine kinase were measured on two separate testing occasions before the downhill walk test and at 1, 24, 72 and 120 Hr post-test. A 30 min therapeutic massage was randomly applied, 2 hours after the downhill walk test, to the lower limb by a qualified massage therapist. Statistical analysis for soreness and tenderness revealed significant differences (p<00.5) between the massage and non-massage groups at 24 Hr post-walk. Plasma CK levels significantly increased (p<0.005) 1 Hr post-walk, whilst significant differences (p<0.05) were seen across time compared to baseline. Significant changes (p<0.001) in isometric knee extensor torque for the massaged (-7%) and non-massaged (-10%) groups occurred 1 Hr post-walk, significant differences (p<0.05) were observed across time. Isokinetic knee extensor torque significantly decreased for the massaged ( -14%) and non-massaged ( -9%) groups across time (p<0.05). Although knee flexor isokinetic torque declined {approximately -5%) there were no significant changes between groups. Vertical jump height decreased by approximately 16% for the massaged group and 12% for the non-massaged group but showed no significant difference between groups. However, significant differences (p<0.001) were observed at 24 Hr post-walk and remained below baseline (-5%) at 120 Hr post-walk. The results of this study suggest a therapeutic massage will attenuate a decrease in isometric and isokinetic torque and improve recovery following downhill walking. However, it appears massage does not offer a significant improvement in reducing the decreases in vertical jump height but docs decrease the recovery time compared to the non-massaged limb following downhill walking.

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