Sports Massage - The Science is Emerging

sports massage - the science is emerging

Micro-blog post looking at the psychological & physiological responses to massage therapy

Massage therapy has been shown to be an effective way to relieve pain, decrease stress and promote overall well-being. Understanding the basic science behind massage and the guiding principles of adaptability enables massage therapists to think flexibly about what's going on, both in terms of specific and nonspecific effects. Based on available evidence, it is my opinion that the best way to describe the effects of massage therapy, is not in a single unified response,  but as a collection of interconnected adaptive responses within the nervous system and soft tissue structures. 

Most massage therapists use a combination of - loading, stretching, compression and shearing. Despite being called different names, these techniques create the similar responses, namely:
 neuroimmune responses - for a brief introduction see Rapaport et al. 2012
• biomechanical responses - for a brief introduction see Best et al. 2016
• psychosocial responses - for a brief introduction see Moyer et al. 2004

Could massage therapy be more widely utilized?

Massage therapy has been shown to be a safe, effective non-pharmacological therapeutic intervention that is simple to carry out, economical, and has very few side effects. With the many documented psychological & physiological benefits to a massage therapy, we are uniquely suited to help those who suffer from sport related aches and pains.

More to Explore

Begovic, H., Zhou, G., Schuster, S., & Zheng, Y. (2016). The neuromotor effects of transverse friction massage. Manual Therapy.

Berrueta, L., Muskaj, I., Olenich, S., Butler, T., Badger, G. J., Colas, R. A., . . . Langevin, H. M. (2016). Stretching Impacts Inflammation Resolution in Connective Tissue. Journal of Cellular Physiology.

Best, T. M., & Crawford, S. K. (2016). Massage and postexercise recovery: The science is emerging. British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Best, T., Gharaibeh, B., & Huard, J. (2012). Stem cells, angiogenesis and muscle healing: A potential role in massage therapies? British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Bialosky, J. E., Bishop, M. D., Price, D. D., Robinson, M. E., & George, S. Z. (2009). The mechanisms of manual therapy in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain: A comprehensive model. Manual Therapy. (Open Access)

Bishop, M. D., Torres-Cueco, R., Gay, C. W., Lluch-Girbés, E., Beneciuk, J. M., & Bialosky, J. E. (2015). What effect can manual therapy have on a patient's pain experience? Pain Management.

Bove, G., Harris, M., Zhao, H., & Barbe, M. (2016). Manual therapy as an effective treatment for fibrosis in a rat model of upper extremity overuse injury. Journal of the Neurological Sciences.

Brummitt, J. (2008). The role of massage in sports performance and rehabilitation: current evidence and future direction. N Am J Sports Phys Ther.

Chaitow, L. (2016). Dosage and manual therapies – Can we translate science into practice? Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.

Crane, J., Ogborn, D., Cupido, C., Melov, S., Hubbard, A., Bourgeois, J., & Tarnopolsky, M. (2012). Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Science Translational Medicine.

Dunn, S. L., & Olmedo, M. L. (2016). Mechanotransduction: Relevance to Physical Therapist Practice--Understanding Our Ability to Affect Genetic Expression Through Mechanical Forces. Physical Therapy.

Ellingsen, D., Leknes, S., Løseth, G., Wessberg, J., & Olausson, H. (2016). The Neurobiology Shaping Affective Touch: Expectation, Motivation, and Meaning in the Multisensory Context. Frontiers in Psychology. (Open Access)

Eriksson-Crommert, M., Lacourpaille, L., Heales, L.J., Tucker, K., Hug, F. (2015). Massage induces an immediate, albeit short-term, reduction in muscle stiffness. Scand J Med Sci Sports.

Field, T. (2016). Massage therapy research review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

Laumonier, T., & Menetrey, J. (2016). Muscle injuries and strategies for improving their repair. Journal of Experimental Orthopaedics. (Open Access)

Mcpartland, J. M., Guy, G. W., & Marzo, V. D. (2014). Care and Feeding of the Endocannabinoid System: A Systematic Review of Potential Clinical Interventions that Upregulate the Endocannabinoid System. PLoS ONE. (Open Access)

Moyer, C.A., Rounds, J., Hannum, J.W. (2004). A meta-analysis of massage therapy research. Psychol Bull.

Nahin, R. L., Boineau, R., Khalsa, P. S., Stussman, B. J., & Weber, W. J. (2016). Evidence-Based Evaluation of Complementary Health Approaches for Pain Management in the United States. Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Nunes, G. S., Bender, P. U., Menezes, F. S., Yamashitafuji, I., Vargas, V. Z., & Wageck, B. (2016). Massage therapy decreases pain and perceived fatigue after long-distance Ironman triathlon: A randomised trial. Journal of Physiotherapy. (Open Access)

Poppendieck, W., Wegmann, M., Ferrauti, A., Kellmann, M., Pfeiffer, M., Meyer, T. (2016). Massage and Performance Recovery: A Meta-Analytical Review. Sports Med, 46(2):183-204.

Rapaport, M.H., Schettler, P., Bresee, C. (2012). A preliminary study of the effects of repeated massage on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and immune function in healthy individuals: a study of mechanisms of action and dosage. J Altern Complement Med. (Open Access)

Thompson, W. R., Scott, A., Loghmani, M. T., Ward, S. R., & Warden, S. J. (2016). Understanding Mechanobiology: Physical Therapists as a Force in Mechanotherapy and Musculoskeletal Regenerative Rehabilitation. Physical Therapy. (Open Access)

Vairo, G.L., Miller, S.J., McBrier, N.M., Buckley, W.E. (2009). Systematic review of efficacy for manual lymphatic drainage techniques in sports medicine and rehabilitation: an evidence-based practice approach. J Man Manip Ther. (Open Access)

Vigotsky, A. D., & Bruhns, R. P. (2015). The Role of Descending Modulation in Manual Therapy and Its Analgesic Implications: A Narrative Review. Pain Research and Treatment. (Open Access)

Waters-Banker, C., Dupont-Versteegden, E. E., Kitzman, P. H., & Butterfield, T. A. (2014). Investigating the Mechanisms of Massage Efficacy: The Role of Mechanical Immunomodulation. Journal of Athletic Training. (Open Access)

Weerapong, P., Hume, P.A., Kolt, G.S. (2005). The mechanisms of massage and effects on performance, muscle recovery and injury prevention. Sports Med.