Effect of sports massage on performance and recovery: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Review written by Dr Teddy Willsey info

Key Points

  1. Sports massage has not been shown to provide benefits in measures of performance related to jumping, sprinting, strength, endurance, and fatigue.
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Sports massage is commonplace in elite sport and becoming increasingly popular at the amateur level. While the proposed benefits of massage are impressive, the practice is time-consuming and resource intensive (1). With athletes always searching for a competitive edge, the self-massage and recovery industry has exploded in the past decade. From foam rollers to percussion guns, these tools are ubiquitous in training rooms, clinics, and gyms across the world.

Proponents of massage cite a wide range of benefits at both systemic and local tissue levels, while suggesting the net effect of these benefits can lead to decreased rate of injury, improved recovery from injury, and increased performance. The authors of this study performed a systematic review and meta-analysis examining the effect of massage on measures of sporting performance and recovery.

Sports massage is becoming increasingly popular at the amateur sporting level.
Despite the small benefit massage may have on DOMS and flexibility, it has not been shown to be superior to active movement.


The authors used a PRISMA system to gather and assess relevant articles. Self-massage and joint manipulation techniques were not considered in this review. Inclusion criteria consisted of massage performed by a certified massage therapist, study randomization, and the assessment of

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