Massage therapy can improve sleep and muscle tightness to aid recovery in elite para-athletes, according to a study published in BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine (Kennedy et al, 2018).
In a mixed methods study, scientists invited nine members of Team Roger C Peace, an elite para-cycling team from South Carolina, USA, to receive one hour of massage therapy each week for four weeks, before switching to every other week until the respective athletes left the team or the two-year study ended.
Seventeen massage therapists were recruited, who on average had been practising for 14 years.
To monitor progress, the athletes agreed to complete a questionnaire before and after each massage session, with closed and open-ended questions on athlete goals, stress, sleep, muscle tightness, spasticity and pain. Additional information was collected from programme feedback and treatment notes from the massage therapists.
The results at the end of the study revealed…
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