Efficacy of Massage Therapy in Attenuating Vascular Dysfunction after Exertion-Induced Muscle Injury

AWARD TYPE: Past Research Grants

Nina C. Franklin, LMT, Ph.D. (Cand)
University of Illinois at Chicago

Exertion-induced muscle injury is a recurrent problem that most frequently results from strenuous physical work or exercise involving eccentric contractions and clinically presents as pain and discomfort lasting up to 7 days. Research suggests that muscle injury triggers a local inflammatory response. Production of pro-inflammatory mediators by neutrophils, during the early phase of this response, may initiate systemic inflammation characterized by enhanced adhesion of neutrophils to the endothelium, excess reactive oxygen species production, and consequently, vascular dysfunction. Currently, there is no universally accepted treatment for exertion-induced muscle injury, however, massage therapy is often recommended for reducing associated symptoms.

The purpose of this research project is to determine the efficacy of massage therapy in attenuating vascular dysfunction in healthy sedentary young adults following acute exposure to exertion-induced muscle injury. Individuals who meet inclusion criteria will be assigned to one of three groups: 1) massage therapy treatment following exposure to exertion-induced muscle injury, 2) a control condition of exertion-induced muscle injury without massage therapy, or 3) a control condition of massage therapy without exertion-induced muscle injury. Our studies will employ an integrated approach with in-vivo and in-vitro physiologic methods to address independent and dual effects of exertion-induced muscle injury and massage therapy treatment on vascular function. The hypothesis to be tested is that massage therapy treatment performed after acute exposure to exertion-induced muscle injury will protect against vascular dysfunction and oxidative stress.

This research has been published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Journal (article titled “Massage Therapy Restores Peripheral Vascular Function Following Exertion”). You can view the original press release and video here.