Massage enhances recovery following exercise-induced muscle damage in older adults

Aynollah Naderi, Atefeh Aminian-Far, Farhad Gholami, Seyed Hamed Mousavi, Moein Saghari, Glyn Howatson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


To examine efficacy of cold‐water immersion (CWI) and massage as recovery techniques on joint position sense, balance, and fear of falling following exercise‐induced muscle damage in older adults. Seventy‐eight older men and women performed a single bout of strength training on the calf muscles (3 exercises with 4 sets of 10 reps with 75% of 1RM) to induce muscle damage. After the damaging exercise, participants received either a 15‐min massage on calf muscles, or a CWI of the lower limb in cold water (15±1°C) for 15 min, or passive rest. Interventions were applied immediately after the exercise protocol and at 24, 48, and 72 hours post‐exercise. Muscle pain, calf muscle strength, joint position sense, dynamic balance, postural sway and fear of falling were measured at each time point. Repeated application of massage after EIMD relieved muscle pain, attenuated the loss of muscle strength and joint position senses, reduce balance impairments and fear of falling in older adults (p≤0.05). However, repeated applications of CWI, despite relieving muscle pain (p≤0.05), did not attenuate the loss of muscle strength, joint position senses, balance impairments, and fear of falling. CWI had only some modest effects on muscle pain, but massage attenuated EIMD symptoms and the related impairments in muscle strength, joint position sense, balance, and postural sway in untrained older individuals. Therefore, older exercisers who plan to participate in strength training can benefit from massage for recovery from muscle damage indices and balance to decrease falling risk during the days following strength training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-632
Number of pages10
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number3
Early online date2 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


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