Pre-competition massage does not affect sprint performance.
Researchers from School of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, University of Bedfordshire, UK investigated the effect pre-competition massage has on short-term sprint performance. Twenty male collegiate games players, with a minimum training/playing background of 3 sessions per week, were assigned to a randomized, counter-balanced, repeated-measures designed experiment used to analyze 20-m sprints performance.
Three warm-up modalities were trialled: pre-competition massage, a traditional warm-up, and a pre-competition massage combined with a traditional warm-up. Massage consisted of fast, superficial techniques designed to stimulate the main muscle groups associated with sprint running. Twenty-meter sprint performance was assessed after the warm-up interventions.
Their results indicated that sprint times in the warm-up and massage combined with warm-up conditions were significantly faster than massage alone. Also, step rate and mean knee velocity were found to be significantly greater in the warm-up and massage combined with warm-up modalities when compared to massage alone.
However, no significant differences were demonstrated in any measures when the warm-up and massage and warm-up combined conditions were compared. Massage as a pre-performance preparation strategy seems to decrease 20-m sprint performance when compared to a traditional warm-up, although its combination with a normal active warm-up seems to have no greater benefit then active warm-up alone. The authors questioned the effectiveness of massage use prior to competition because it appears to have no effective role in improving sprint performance.
Massage therapy is commonly prescribed for individuals that suffer from chronic pain, inflammation, or musculoskeletal injury. Despite the widespread belief that massage augments muscle repair and reduces inflammation, there is little objective, scientific evidence to support its practice.
Researchers from McMaster University, Canada evaluated the molecular effects of massage following a single unaccustomed bout of exercise. Eleven recreationally active, healthy males (mean age 22yrs) volunteered to participate in this study. Each subject completed an exhaustive endurance cycling protocol. After 15 mins of recovery, one quadricep was randomly chosen for 10 mins of massage and the contralateral leg served as a control. Muscle biopsies were acquired from the vastus lateralis at rest, immediately following massage, and 2.5h after massage was administered.
Histology revealed that exercise induced significant muscle damage from rest at 2.5 hour , however there was no effect of massage. No differences were seen between control or massage in the oxidative stress markers or protein carbonyls at any timepoint. However, Gene microarray analysis displayed 4 genes that were differentially expressed immediately following massage, as well as 11 genes at 2.5h after massage. These genes relate to pathways of inflammation and cellular remodeling. In summary, these data provide evidence that massage stimulates molecular events that may justify its use in the remediation of muscle injury.
Back massage therapy promotes psychological relaxation
Massage therapy promotes psychosocial relaxation, reduces stress and has been reported to improve the immune function. As such, massage therapy is currently used in palliative care for the relief of anxiety and pain. Although psychosocial status, such as State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), has been evaluated using subjective psychological tests, subjective psychological tests are of limited value if the subjects fail to report reliably. Salivary biomarkers have been recently suggested as useful objective markers for assessing psychosocial status.
Researchers from Department of Nursing of Hirosaki University Graduate School of Health Sciences in Japan conducted experiments to determine whether salivary biomarkers are useful objective indices for assessing the effects of back massage on the mental status of 25 young healthy female volunteers. They measured heart rate and salivary biomarkers (alpha-amylase activity, cortisol, and chromogranin A) and assessed the psychosocial status score before and after the back massage.
Back massage significantly reduced the heart rate and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; however, salivary amylase and cortisol levels did not change. In contrast, the level of salivary "chromogranin A" significantly increased. The authors concluded that changes in the salivary biomarkers tested here may not indicate changes in psychological status following massage therapy. However, the increase in chromogranin A release may contribute to the immunologically beneficial effects of massage therapy as chromogranin A has antibacterial and antifungal activity.
A magic elixir is shown to promote weight loss
CONSUME more water and you will become much healthier, goes an old wives’ tale. Drink a glass of water before meals and you will eat less, goes another. Such prescriptions seem sensible, but they have little rigorous science to back them up.
Until now, that is. A team led by Brenda Davy of Virginia Tech has run the first randomised controlled trial studying the link between water consumption and weight loss. A report on the 12-week trial, published earlier this year, suggested that drinking water before meals does lead to weight loss. At a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston this week, Dr Davy unveiled the results of a year-long follow-up study that confirms and expands that finding.
The researchers divided 48 inactive Americans, aged 55 to 75, into two groups. Members of one were told to drink half a litre of water shortly before each of three daily meals. The others were given no instructions on what to drink. Before the trial, all participants had been consuming between 1,800 and 2,200 calories a day. When it began, the women’s daily rations were slashed to 1,200 calories, while the men were allowed 1,500. After three months the group that drank water before meals had lost about 7kg each, while those in the thirsty group lost only 5kg.
Dr Davy confidently bats away some obvious doubts about the results. There is no selection bias, she observes, since this is a randomised trial. It is possible that the water displaced sugary drinks in the hydrated group, but this does not explain the weight loss because the calories associated with any fizzy drinks consumed by the other group had to fall within the daily limits. Moreover, the effect seems to be long-lasting. In the subsequent 12 months the participants have been allowed to eat and drink what they like. Those told to drink water during the trial have, however, stuck with the habit—apparently they like it. Strikingly, they have continued to lose weight (around 700g over the year), whereas the others have put it back on.
Why this works is obscure. But work it does. It’s cheap. It’s simple. And unlike so much dietary advice, it seems to be enjoyable too.