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Effects of Myofascial Release After High-Intensity Exercise: A Randomized Clinical Trial

      Abstract

      Objective

      The usefulness of massage as a recovery method after high-intensity exercise has yet to be established. We aimed to investigate the effects of whole-body massage on heart rate variability (HRV) and blood pressure (BP) after repeated high-intensity cycling exercise under controlled and standardized pretest conditions.

      Methods

      The study included 62 healthy active individuals. After baseline measurements, the subjects performed standardized warm-up exercises followed by three 30-second Wingate tests. After completing the exercise protocol, the subjects were randomly assigned to a massage (myofascial release) or placebo (sham treatment with disconnected ultrasound and magnetotherapy equipment) group for a 40-minute recovery period. Holter recording and BP measurements were taken after exercise protocol and after the intervention.

      Results

      After the exercise protocol, both groups showed a significant decrease in normal-to-normal interval, HRV index, diastolic BP (P > .001), and low-frequency domain values (P = .006). After the recovery period, HRV index (P = .42) and high-frequency (HF) (P = .94) values were similar to baseline levels in the massage group, whereas the HRV index tended (P = .05) to be lower and the HF was significantly (P < .01) lower vs baseline values in the placebo group, which also showed a tendency (P = .06) for HF to be lower than after the exercise. Likewise, diastolic BP returned to baseline levels in the massage group (P = .45) but remained lower in the placebo group (P = .02).

      Conclusion

      Myofascial release massage favors the recovery of HRV and diastolic BP after high-intensity exercise (3 Wingate tests) to preexercise levels.

      Key Indexing Term

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