Transverse friction massage (TFM) has an effect on muscle activation, new research shows.

Researchers in Taiwan set out to determine the effects TFM on flexor carpi radialis motoneuron pool excitability.

The motoneuron pool controls muscle activation. Twenty-eight healthy subjects were randomly assigned into massage and control groups. Pre- vs post-TFM data were collected, , according to an abstract published on Controls received a rest period instead of massage.

Massage dose was standardized by a novel electronic method which recorded the massage rate, momentary pressure and total cumulative pressure (energy).

Those in the massage group experienced decreased motorneuron pool activity, while those in the control group did not experience a change.

“A novel quantitative approach to the study of massage has been demonstrated while testing the effects of TFM on FCR MN pool excitability,” the researchers noted. “TFM appears to reduce [motorneuron] pool excitability.

“The novel method of quantifying massage permits more rigorous testing of client-centered massage in future research,” they added.

The research was published in the journal Manual Therapy.