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Massage therapy slightly decreased pain intensity after habitual running, but had no effect on fatigue, mood or physical performance: a randomised trial [with consumer summary]
Bender PU, Luz CMD, Feldkircher JM, Nunes GS
Journal of Physiotherapy 2019 Apr;65(2):75-80
clinical trial
8/10 [Eligibility criteria: No; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: Yes; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: Yes; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

QUESTION: Does massage therapy reduce pain and perceived fatigue in the quadriceps, and improve the mood and physical performance of runners after habitual sporting activity (10-km run)? DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial with concealed allocation, intention-to-treat analysis and blinded assessment. PARTICIPANTS: Seventy-eight runners after sporting activity (10-km run). INTERVENTION: The experimental group received 10 minutes of massage to the quadriceps aimed at recovery following sport practice, and the control group received a sham joint mobilisation. OUTCOME MEASURES: Pain and perceived fatigue were each assessed using a 0-to-10 numerical rating scale; pain behaviour via the McGill Pain Questionnaire; mood profile via Brunel Mood Scale; quadriceps muscle flexibility using maximal knee flexion angle via inclinometer; isometric muscle strength of knee extensors via hand-held dynamometry; and vertical jump performance using jump height via My Jump 2 app. Evaluations were carried out immediately before and after the intervention, and at 24, 48 and 72 hours after the intervention. Generalised estimating equations were used to estimate a between-group difference (95% CI) using data across all time points. RESULTS: The experimental group had significantly lower scores than the control group on the numerical rating scale for pain by 0.7 points (95% CI 0.1 to 1.3). There were no significant between-group differences for any of the other outcome measures. CONCLUSION: Massage therapy was effective at reducing pain intensity after application to the quadriceps of runners compared to a sham technique, but the magnitude of the effect was small. There were no significant effects on perceived fatigue, flexibility, strength or jump performance. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Brazilian Registry of Clinical Trials, RBR-393m7m.

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