Sports massage and cold water immersion could be more effective than rest after a marathon

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The article below was first published in International Therapist issue 127 (Winter 2019)

Sports massage (SM) and cold water immersion (CWI) are more effective at reducing fatigue after a marathon than active rest (AR) and passive rest (PR), according to a study published in PLOS One (Wiewelhove et al, 2018).

Scientists recruited 46 healthy male recreational runners taking part in the same half marathon event and assigned them to four groups of equal ability, which had either SM, CWI, AR or PR within 15 minutes after the event.

The SM group received effleurage, petrissage and friction techniques for 20 minutes, focusing on each leg for five minutes in prone and supine positions. CWI involved participants sitting in cold baths, maintaining a temperature of 15°C ± 1°C, while participants of the PR group sat at rest on a bench, and those in the AR group jogged at 60% of their anaerobic threshold, all for 15 minutes.

Jump height, muscle soreness and perceived recovery and stress were measured 24 hours before the half marathon, immediately after intervention, and 24 hours after the race.

The results showed that SM and CWI had no effect on objective markers of fatigue, such as changes in muscle and the blood, but they did have a significant effect on subjective fatigue measures, including perceived recovery and muscle soreness. These interventions were more effective than PR, while AR had no physical advantage and a negative effect on perceived recovery.

For the full study, go to


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One thought on “Sports massage and cold water immersion could be more effective than rest after a marathon

  1. FHT shares running articles and research as we approach the 2021 London Marathon – Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT)

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