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Background—Despite massage being widely used by athletes, little scientific evidence exists to confirm the efficacy of massage for promoting both physiological and psychological recovery after exercise and massage effects on performance.
Aim—To investigate the effect of massage on perceived recovery and blood lactate removal, and also to examine massage effects on repeated boxing performance.
Methods—Eight amateur boxers completed two performances on a boxing ergometer on two occasions in a counterbalanced design. Boxers initially completed performance 1, after which they received a massage or passive rest intervention. Each boxer then gave perceived recovery ratings before completing a second performance, which was a repeated simulation of the first. Heart rates and blood lactate and glucose levels were also assessed before, during, and after all performances.
Results—A repeated measures analysis of variance showed no significant group differences for either performance, although a main effect was found showing a decrement in punching force from performance 1 to performance 2 (p<0.05). A Wilcoxon matched pairs test showed that the massage intervention significantly increased perceptions of recovery (p<0.01) compared with the passive rest intervention. A doubly multivariate multiple analysis of variance showed no differences in blood lactate or glucose following massage or passive rest interventions, although the blood lactate concentration after the second performance was significantly higher following massage (p<0.05).
Conclusions—These findings provide some support for the psychological benefits of massage, but raise questions about the benefit of massage for physiological restoration and repeated sports performance.
Key Words: massage; lactate; psychological recovery; physiological recovery; performance