Listed in Issue 256


HOFFMAN and COLLEAGUES, 1. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Northern California Health Care System, Sacramento, CA;

2.  University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA; 3. Department of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA;4. Health Sciences Department, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine the effectiveness of massage and pneumatic compression on recovery from a 161-km ultramarathon.


Post-exercise recovery techniques are widely used, but little research has examined their effectiveness.


The authors conducted a randomized controlled trial. Participants in the 2015 161-km Western States Endurance Run were randomized to a 20-minute postrace intervention of massage, intermittent sequential pneumatic compression, or supine rest. Each subject completed two 400-m runs at maximum speed before the race and on days 3 and 5 after the race, and also provided muscle pain and soreness ratings and overall muscular fatigue scores before and for 7 days after the race.


Among the 72 runners who finished the race and completed the study, comparison among intervention groups revealed no significant group or interaction effect on 400-m run time, but there was a significant (P<.0001) time effect. Immediately posttreatment, massage resulted in lower muscle pain and soreness ratings compared with the supine-rest control condition (P<.0001), while both massage (P<.0001) and pneumatic compression (P<.01) resulted in lower overall muscular fatigue scores compared with the control group. There were no significant differences between groups in any outcome 1 to 7 days after the race.


Single 20-minute sessions of postrace massage and intermittent sequential pneumatic compression provide some immediate subjective benefit. There is no evidence, however, that such treatments provide extended subjective or functional benefits of clinical importance. The trial was registered at (NCT02530190). Level of Evidence Therapy, level 1b. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2016;46(5):320-326. Epub 23 Mar 2016. doi:10.2519/jospt.2016.6455.


Hoffman MD1, Badowski N2, Chin J3, Stuempfle KJ4. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Massage and Pneumatic Compression for Ultramarathon Recovery. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 46(5):320-6. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2016.6455. Epub 2016 Mar 23. May 2016.


The above research demonstrates at least short-term clinical benefit – lower muscle pain and soreness – of massage and pneumatic compression in recovery from an ultramarathon.

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