Studies were eligible for this review if they included people who were performing strenuous exercise, received massage by hand to the exercised limbs and were assessed for muscle recovery and strength. Possible outcome measures included intensity of muscle soreness, subjective levels of pain, range of motion, muscle peak torque and muscle circumference. Study design was not specified.
This review included case series and randomised controlled trials (RCTs). A wide variety of massage protocols were used varying in type, duration and frequency of treatment. In the RCTs, massage was given within 20 minutes of exercise (most studies) or delayed up to 24 hours post-exercise. Session length varied from five to 30 minutes. Session number varied between one and four sessions. Participants were either healthy but untrained volunteers or athletes of various levels. Both men and women were included. Age ranged from 18 years to 51 years. The most common outcome measures used in the RCTs were peak torque, maximum voluntary muscle contractions, blood lactate levels and serum neutrophil count.
The authors did not state how many reviewers performed study selection for this review.