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Psychophysiological Effects of Preperformance Massage Before Isokinetic Exercise

Arroyo-Morales, Manuel1; Fernández-Lao, Carolina1; Ariza-García, Angelica1; Toro-Velasco, Cristina1; Winters, Marinus2; Díaz-Rodríguez, Lourdes3; Cantarero-Villanueva, Irene1; Huijbregts, Peter4,5; Fernández-De-las-Peñas, Cesar6

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2011 - Volume 25 - Issue 2 - pp 481-488
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e83a47
Original Research

Arroyo-Morales, M, Fernández-Lao, C, Ariza-García, A, Toro-Velasco, C, Winters, M, Díaz-Rodríguez, L, Cantarero-Villanueva, I, Huijbregts, P, and Fernández-De-las-Peñas, C. Psychophysiological effects of preperformance massage before isokinetic exercise. J Strength Cond Res 25(2): 481-488, 2011-Sports massage provided before an activity is called pre-event massage. The hypothesized effects of pre-event massage include injury prevention, increased performance, and the promotion of a mental state conducive to performance. However, evidence with regard to the effects of pre-event massage is limited and equivocal. The exact manner in which massage produces its hypothesized effects also remains a topic of debate and investigation. This randomized single-blind placebo-controlled crossover design compared the immediate effects of pre-event massage to a sham intervention of detuned ultrasound. Outcome measures included isokinetic peak torque assessments of knee extension and flexion; salivary flow rate, cortisol concentration, and α-amylase activity; mechanical detection thresholds (MDTs) using Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments and mood state using the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire. This study showed that massage before activity negatively affected subsequent muscle performance in the sense of decreased isokinetic peak torque at higher speed (p < 0.05). Although the study yielded no significant changes in salivary cortisol concentration and α-amylase activity, it found a significant increase in salivary flow rate (p = 0.03). With the massage intervention, there was a significant increase in the MDT at both locations tested (p < 0.01). This study also noted a significant decrease in the tension subscale of the POMS for massage as compared to placebo (p = 0.01). Pre-event massage was found to negatively affect muscle performance possibly because of increased parasympathetic nervous system activity and decreased afferent input with resultant decreased motor-unit activation. However, psychological effects may indicate a role for pre-event massage in some sports, specifically in sportspeople prone to excessive pre-event tension.

1Physical Therapy Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Granada, Granada, Spain; 2Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Physical Therapy, University of Applied Sciences, Leiden, The Netherlands; 3Nursing Department, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Granada, Granada, Spain; 4Online Education, Department of Physiotherapy, University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, St. Augustine, Florida; 5Department of Physiotherapy, Shelbourne Physiotherapy Clinic, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; and 6Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of University Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Spain

Address correspondence to Manuel Arroyo-Morales,

© 2011 National Strength and Conditioning Association