Can massage therapy reduce pain and perceived fatigue in the quadriceps of athletes after a long-distance triathlon race?

This study aims to answer this question through a randomised, controlled trial with concealed allocation, intention-to-treat analysis and blinded outcome assessors.

Seventy-four triathlon athletes who completed an entire Ironman triathlon race and whose main complaint was pain in the anterior portion of the thigh were included in the study. The experimental group received massage to the quadriceps, which was aimed at recovery after competition, and the control group rested in sitting.

The outcomes were pain and perceived fatigue, which were reported using a visual analogue scale, and pressure pain threshold at three points over the quadriceps muscle, which was assessed using digital pressure algometry. The experimental group had significantly lower scores than the control group on the visual analogue scale for pain and for perceived fatigue. There were no significant between-group differences for the pressure pain threshold at any of the assessment points.

Massage therapy was more effective than no intervention on the post-race recovery from pain and perceived fatigue in long-distance triathlon athletes.