Purpose: The intention of this study was to assess the effectiveness of massage on muscle recovery as a function of therapist education in participants who completed a 10-km running race.
Methods: Race participants were offered a 12- to 15-min massage immediately postevent. Participants were randomly assigned to a student therapist with either 450, 700, or 950 h of didactic training in massage. Muscle soreness was recorded by questionnaire using a 0- to 10-point visual scale at time points immediately before and after massage, and 24 and 48 h postevent. Eight hundred ninety-five subjects were recruited, with 317 subjects returning questionnaires from all time points.
Results: Race participants who received massage from student therapists with 950 h of didactic training reported significantly greater improvement in muscle soreness across time compared with those who received massage from therapists with 700 or 450 h of education in massage (P < 0.01). On study entry, there was no difference in muscle soreness (P = 0.99), with a group mean of 4.4 ± 0.4; at the 24-h measurement, soreness was 2.4 ± 0.6, 3.7 ± 0.5, and 3.6 ± 0.9 for the 950-, 700-, and 450-h groups, respectively (P < 0.01).
Conclusion: Level of therapist training was shown to impact effectiveness of massage as a postrace recovery tool; greater reduction in muscle soreness was achieved by therapists with 950 h of training as opposed to those with 700 or 450 h.