Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Mark Tarnopolsky




The purpose of this investigation was to examine the physiological effects of massage on indicators of skeletal muscle function following exhaustive endurance exercise. Specifically, we examined the effects of unilateral leg massage therapy on pain, muscle lactate, glycogen and damage, before (BASELINE) and at an early (EARLY, +30 min), and later (LATE, +2.5h) time points, following a single bout of exhaustive endurance exercise. Thirteen young, recreationally active males who exercise 2-3 times per week (age: 22.0 ± 2.7 y; weight: 75.2 ± 10.6 kg (mean ± SD)) were recruited to participate in the study. Participants underwent a baseline muscle biopsy of the vastus lateralis of one randomly assigned leg and performed a maximal oxygen uptake test (VO2peak) using an incremental cycle ergometry test to voluntary exhaustion (mean VO2peak = 45.9 ± 7.5 mL/kg/min, peak power = 270 ± 47 W). Two weeks later, the participants returned to the laboratory and completed an exhaustive endurance exercise protocol. Following the cycling protocol, participants were given 10 min of recovery, and were asked to report the pain levels of each of their quadriceps muscles using a visual analog scale (0 = no pain; 10 = worst pain imaginable) at two min post-exercise (post-exercise and pre-intervention (PRE)). A single Registered Massage Therapist randomly selected one leg for each participant to be massaged, while the other leg did not receive any treatment modality. Pain scores were again reported two min post-massage (post- intervention (POST)). Two muscle biopsies were taken from each leg (MAS and CON leg) on the second visit following completion of the endurance exercise protocol at +30 min and +2.5 h. There was no difference in postexercise/pre-massage pain scores between the legs (CON = 7.4 ± 2.0; MAS = 7.4 ± 2.0); however, post-exercise/post-massage pain scores were lower in the massaged leg (MAS = 2.3 ± 1.8; CON = 3.9 ± 2.3, P < 0.001). Massage had no effect on muscle lactate concentration, damage, or glycogen content, at any time point. In conclusion, massage therapy treatment following exhaustive endurance exercise was shown to lower pain scores but had no effect on muscle lactate, damage or glycogen content. These findings support the concept that post-endurance exercise massage therapy lowers pain perception but not through alterations in muscle lactate concentration, damage or glycogen content; consequently, the reduction in pain is more likely due to neurological and/or psychological effects associated with massage.

McMaster University Library

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Kinesiology Commons