Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD), which is commonly associated with eccentric exercise, unaccustomed exercise, and resistance training, may lead to delayed onset muscle soreness, swelling, decreased muscle strength, and range of motion. Many researchers have evaluated various interventions to treat the signs and symptoms of EIMD. However, the effects of massage after EIMD are unclear.This study investigated the effect of massage on muscle strength and proprioception after EIMD. All subjects randomly were divided into an EIMD-treated control group (n = 10) and a massage-treated after EIMD experimental group (n = 11). Exercise-induced muscle damage was induced by repeated exercise. Massage treatment was provided by physiotherapist for 15 minutes. It consists of light stroking, milking, friction, and skin rolling. Lactate was evaluated by Lactate Pro analyzer in pre- and postexercise. Surface electromyography (muscle activity) and sonography (muscle thickness) were used to confirm the muscular characteristics. Proprioception was investigated by dual inclinometer. As a result, massage treatment on the gastrocnemius after EIMD increased activation of the medial gastrocnemius during contraction (p ≤ 0.05). In the lateral and medial gastrocnemius, the θs, which is the angle between muscle fibers and superficial aponeurosis, showed a significant change (p ≤ 0.05). However, there are no differences in the θd, which is the angle between muscle fibers and deep aponeurosis. We also found that proprioceptive acuity in the ankle joint was significantly greater in the massage-treated experimental group compared with that in the control group (p ≤ 0.05).
These findings suggest that massage of the gastrocnemius after EIMD can improve muscle strength and proprioception by influencing the superficial layer of the gastrocnemius.