The objective of this study was to determine if lower extremity exercise-induced muscle injury reduces vascular endothelial function of the upper extremity and if massage therapy (MT) improves peripheral vascular function following exertion-induced muscle injury. Participants were placed in exertion-induced muscle injury only (a single bout of bilateral, eccentric leg press exercise), MT only (30-min lower extremity massage using Swedish technique), or exertion-induced muscle injury and MT. Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was determined by ultrasound at each time point. Nitroglycerin (NTG)-induced dilation was also assessed (0.4 mg). Brachial FMD increased from baseline in the exertion-induced muscle injury and MT group and the MT only group (7.38%±.18% to 9.02%±.28%, P<.05 and 7.77%±.25% to 10.2%±.22%, P<.05, respectively) at 90 minutes and remained elevated until 72 hours. In the exertion-induced muscle injury only group, FMD was reduced from baseline at 24 and 48 hours (7.78%±.14% to 6.75%±.11%, P<.05 and 6.53%±.11%, P<.05, respectively) and returned to baseline after 72 hours. Dilations of NTG were similar over time.
These results indicate that MT attenuates impairment of upper extremity endothelial function resulting from lower extremity exertion-induced muscle injury in sedentary young adults.