Effects of Myofascial Release After High-Intensity Exercise


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.


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.

Massage—myofascial induction protocol

Massage technique Body area Approximate time (min)
Long J-stroke Gastrocnemius 3
Long J-stroke Biceps femoris 3
Cross hand technique Thoracolumbar fascia 12
Sustained pressure Occipital condyles 5
V spread Frontalis 5
Ear pull Temporalis 4
Cross hand technique Quadriceps 8

Cross Hnad stretch


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).


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


Manuel Arroyo-Morales, Nicolas Olea, Manuel Martinez, Carmen Moreno-Lorenzo, Lourdes Daz-Rodrguez and Amparo Hidalgo-Lozano.Effects of Myofascial Release After High-Intensity Exercise: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2008.02.009 March 2008, Pages 217-223

The authors are from: University of Granada, Spain and the paper wins an award at the 2007 ACC-RAC Conference.