OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine if a reduction of short-term physiological and clinical effects of muscle fatigue can be seen after a session of massage in nonspecific chronic low back pain (cLBP) individuals and to study the possible association between physiological and clinical changes induced by massage.
METHODS: Thirty-six cLBP individuals participated in 2 experimental sessions. In one session, the Sorenson protocol was preceded by a 30-minute massage, but in the other session, only the Sorenson test was performed by participants. Lumbar paraspinal muscle activity was recorded using surface electromyography, and maximal voluntary contraction force was measured using a load cell. Participants rated their lumbar pain intensity before and after massage and after the Sorensen protocol. A 2-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was conducted to test the effect of massage on both variables for both conditions. Pearson correlation analyses were conducted to determine the linear association between physiological and clinical responses to massage.
RESULTS: Results showed that pain perception was significantly reduced after massage (P = .004) but did not seem to influence pain score increases occurring after the Sorensen protocol. Individuals with a high score of low back pain-related disability showed lower back muscle endurance time (r = -.35). Massage yielded no significant effect on fatigue-related physiological variables.
CONCLUSION: The perception of pain in cLBP individuals was reduced after massage. Although massage yielded some positives clinical effects, they were not explained by a reduction in physiological effect of muscle fatigue.
Author keywords: Massage, Low Back Pain, Electromyography, Muscle Fatigue
Author affiliations: Département des Sciences de l'Activité Physique, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada
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