Research Exclusive: Study Focuses on Massage Therapy Efficacy Beliefs, MASSAGE MagazineA recent study focused on the belief in the efficacy of massage for muscle recovery after running a race. After gathering and analyzing data from runners who had just completed a race, researchers found massage is well-accepted as an aid in muscle recovery, especially among females and people who have received massage in the past.

The study, “Massage Efficacy Beliefs for Muscle Recovery from a Running Race,” involved 745 people who completed the same 10-kilometer race. Study data was collected from subjects within one hour postrace. The mean subject age was about 37 years.

Participants were approached right after the race and asked whether they were interested in completing a short questionnaire. This survey asked each subject to record his or her gender, age, race finish time, time since he or she finished the race, number of professional massages received and number of hours slept the previous evening.

Participants were also asked to rate their perceived exertion, muscle soreness and fatigue on scales from zero to 10. For one of the study’s main outcome measures, subjects were asked, “Do you think massage would be beneficial for your muscle recovery from today’s race?” They could elect to answer yes, no or unsure. The “no” and “unsure” answers were grouped together for analysis.

The data showed female racers reported a younger age, longer race finish time and lower perceived exertion, muscle soreness and muscle fatigue than male racers. Participants who reported having had massage in the past were among the older racers. Subjects who believed massage would aid in muscle recovery were those who were older and reported greater perceived exertion, muscle fatigue and muscle soreness.

The numbers also showed 80 percent of the 745 runners surveyed believed massage would benefit muscle recovery following the race, even though only about 44 percent of the runners had received massage in the past.

“Females were significantly more likely to believe that massage would be effective as a recovery intervention from the running race,” states the study’s author. “More than half of females reported a previous massage, which was significantly greater than for males.”

Belief in the efficacy of massage increased with age, across six decades of subjects, peaking in the 60-plus age group at nearly 89 percent. Runners who received massage in the past were significantly more inclined to believe in its efficacy for muscle recovery.

“In the present study, we found that massage is well-accepted as a valuable recovery intervention from a running race, [and] females were more likely to have had a massage,” according to the study’s author. “Those who reported prior massage use were more likely to also report greater race-associated muscle soreness or fatigue, and believe in the efficacy of massage for muscle recovery.”

Author: Albert Moraska.

Sources: College of Nursing, University of Colorado at Denver, Aurora, Colorado. Originally published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork in June 2013 (Vol.6, No. 2).