PainSci notes on Torres 2012:
This review of 35 tests of treatments for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is strongly consistent with my own past interpretations of the research: basically, nothing works. Massage is “slightly effective” but “its mean effect was too small to be of clinical relevance.” The evidence for cryotherapy, stretching, and low-intensity exercise is not promising, but technically still inconclusive: more study needed.
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
INTRODUCTION: Exhaustive and/or unaccustomed exercise, mainly involving eccentric muscle actions, induces temporary muscle damage, evidenced by delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and decreased muscle function. Different strategies to recover from its signs and symptoms have been studied and, as a result, a significant number of articles on this issue have been published.
OBJECTIVE: To assess whether some modalities currently used in physiotherapy such as massage, cryotherapy, stretching and low-intensity exercise are effective for treating the signs and symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage.
METHODS: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), written in English or Portuguese, that included physiotherapeutic interventions [i.e., massage, cryotherapy, stretching and low-intensity exercise, on adult human subjects (18-60 years old) of both gender] were searched on electronic databases including MEDLINE, CINHAL, EMBASE, PEDro and SPORTDiscus.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: "Muscle soreness" and "muscle strength" were the outcome measures included in the meta-analysis.
RESULTS: Thirty-five studies were included; nine analysed the effects of massage, 10 examined the effects of cryotherapy, nine investigated the effects of stretching and seven focused on low-intensity exercise intervention. Massage was the only intervention with positive effects, reducing soreness at 24 h, on average, 0.33 on 10 cm visual analog scale (95 percent CI: -0.59, -0.07) and increasing muscle recovery by 1.87 percent (95 percent CI: 0.30, 3.44). Additionally, there is inconclusive evidence to support the use of cryotherapy, while there is little evidence to prove the efficacy of stretching and low-intensity exercise.
CONCLUSION: Massage proved slightly effective in the relief of symptoms and signs of exercise-induced muscle damage. Therefore, its mean effect was too small to be of clinical relevance. There is a lack of evidence to support the use of cryotherapy, stretching and low-intensity exercise.
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Relationships Between Sleep Quality and Pain-Related Factors for People with Chronic Low Back Pain: Tests of Reciprocal and Time of Day Effects. Gerhart 2017 Ann Behav Med.
- Modulation in the elastic properties of gastrocnemius muscle heads in individuals with plantar fasciitis and its relationship with pain. Zhou 2020 Sci Rep.
- Association Between Plantar Fasciitis and Isolated Gastrocnemius Tightness. Nakale 2018 Foot Ankle Int.
- No Added Benefit of Combining Dry Needling With Guideline-Based Physical Therapy When Managing Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Stieven 2020 J Orthop Sports Phys Ther.
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.