Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is common after strenuous or unaccustomed exercise. Muscle soreness appears about 24 to 48 hours after the activity, and sometimes takes a few additional days to subside. DOMS is thought to result from inflammation occurring after strenuous exercise that damages connective tissue in muscle. DOMS causes muscle soreness, reduced range of motion, and muscle tenderness. Treatments such as ice, stretching, exercise and massage have been recommended to reduce DOMS, but the research remains unclear as to what is best to manage DOMS.
Myofascial rolling using tools have become popular in fitness for both warm-up and recovery, but published research remains scarce. A recent study by Macdonald and colleagues (2013) found that myofascial foam rolling was effective at reducing DOMS in the thighs, while also improving range of motion and vertical jump.
Another popular myofascial rolling tool is the TheraBand Roller Massager. Researchers in Denmark wanted to see if the TheraBand Roller Massager could be effective in reducing DOMS. They had 22 healthy untrained men perform high intensity single-leg deadlifts to induce DOMS of both hamstrings. 48 hours later, the subjects were randomly assigned to either a roller massage group or a control group. Both groups were measured for muscle soreness, tenderness, and range of motion.
The Roller Massager group received a roller massage for 10 minutes on one hamstring with moderate pressure at 1 to 2 seconds per stroke. The other hamstring remained untreated, but was also measured for tenderness (pain pressure threshold) to examine any cross-over effects of treatment.
Subjects receiving the roller massage treatment had significantly less soreness and tenderness compared to the control group. There was no significant difference in flexibility between groups. Interestingly, there was a significant reduction in tenderness in the non-treated hamstring, suggesting a central nervous system effect of the Roller Massager on pain.
In conclusion, 10 minutes using a TheraBand Roller Massager can reduce DOMS as well as muscle tenderness after high intensity exercise, making it an effective tool for recovery.
REFERENCE: Jay K, et al. Specific and cross over effects of massage for muscle soreness: randomized controlled trial. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2014. 9(1):82-91.
Disclosure: Performance Health supported this study