Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University enrolled 28 subjects in a novice running program that culminated in a 10-kilometre race, with half of them receiving weekly 30-minute massages from registered massage therapists. On race day, the entire massage group finished the 10km, while only 58 per cent of the non-massagers crossed the finish line. However, the massage group didn’t report greater muscle strength or pain relief during and after runs than the other group.
What gives? “While massages seemed to have little effect on muscle recovery, injury and pain perception in the runners, there may have been some positive reinforcement to continue training in the group that interacted with the massage therapists,” says study co-author Dr Peter Tiidus.
Another possible advantage for the massage group could have been the knowledge they gained from the therapists, say the researchers. They were able to teach the runners injury prevention and recovery strategies like stretches and self-massage.- Maren Kasselik