Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD), which is frequently 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 different interventions to treat the signs and symptoms of EIMD. However, the effects of massage after EIMD are unclear. Here, we investigated the effect of massage on muscle strength and proprioception following EIMD. All subjects were placed at random into an EIMD-treated control group (n = 10) and a massage-treated after EIMD experimental group (n = 11). EIMD was induced by repeated exercise. Massage treatment was provided by physiotherapist for a 15 min. It consists of light stroking, milking, friction, and skin rolling. Lactate was evaluated by lactate pro analyzer before and after exercise. 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 angle between muscle fibers and superficial aponeurosis showed a significant change (p < 0.05). However, there are no differences in the θd which is angle between muscle fibers and deep aponeurosis. The study also found that proprioceptive acuity in the ankle joint was significantly greater in the massage-treated experimental group compared to that in the control group (p < 0.05).
These findings indicate that massage of the gastrocnemius after EIMD can improve muscle strength and proprioception by influencing the superficial layer of the gastrocnemius.