Comparing the Effects of Rest and Massage on Return to Homeostasis Following Submaximal Aerobic Exercise

Posted:Monday, August 4, 2014

Gold Award Winner
Portia Resnick, MA, ATC, LMT
Honolulu, HI

Background: Post-exercise massage can be utilized to help promote recovery on the cellular level as well as systemically by increasing parasympathetic activity. No studies to date have been done to assess the effects of massage on post-exercise metabolic changes and parasympathetic activity.

Objectives: The purpose of this case study was to compare the effects of massage recovery and resting recovery on a subject’s heart rate variability (HRV) and selected metabolic effects following a submaximal exercise session.

Methods: One healthy 24-year old female performed submaximal treadmill exercise prior to resting or massage recovery sessions.  Metabolic data and HRV were evaluated for two 10-minute intervals after each of two 30-minute recovery sessions, either resting or massage.

Results: Heart rate returned to below resting levels more quickly with massage recovery. Heart rate variability showed a more immediate shift to the parasympathetic state and ventilations per minute decreased following 30 minutes of massage recovery. After 60 minutes of resting recovery levels of HRV and ventilation approached those found after 30 minutes of massage recovery.

Conclusion: Massage immediately following submaximal exercise lead to lowered heart rate more quickly than resting alone.  Massage during recovery showed a decrease in sympathetic control and an increase in parasympathetic tone.  A greater relaxation response was seen with massage recovery as evidenced by the VE*VO2-1 response.