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Effects of myofascial release after high-intensity exercise-a randomized clinical trial. | Boddicker Performance

Filed under: Article Summaries, Manual Therapy

Effects of myofascial release after high-intensity exercise-a randomized clinical trial.

by on Dec 22nd, 2010

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Arroyo-Morales M, Olea N, Martinez M. (2008). Effects of myofascial release after high-intensity exercise-a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 31(3), 217-22.

Arroyo-Morales and colleagues examined if a) a repetitive high intensity exercise bout can influence autonomic balance and b) if a 40 minute session of myofascial release therapy was more effective than a sham post-exercise therapy session in restoring autonomic balance measured via Heart Rate Variability (HRV).

Detailed in their approach, the investigators had 62 subjects (37 males, 25 females) divided into two randomized groups, who participated in 3 separate bouts of 3 maximal Wingate cycles on the same day separated by 1 month breaks. Subjects were active—5 to 10 hours per week of exercise—and took no pharmaceuticals, did not smoke or take part in elicit drug use, and were cleared for intense exercise.

Following each bout, one group received 40 minutes of myofascial release therapy and another a sham treatment of ultrasound. Results demonstrated that the myofascial release group returned to baseline in HRV and had increased parasympathetic activity over the sham treatment group.

While these individuals were active, they were not high level athletes, and training may have an influence over autonomic tone, thus it is not perfectly applicable to answering the question of what impact myofascial release has on elite athlete’s ANS tone. It is useful in identifying, however, that manual therapy is capable of facilitating changes in HRV post-high intensity exercise that may help improve recovery post-competition. The better results over sham treatment serve to support a true treatment effect with soft tissue therapy modalities, though there may be a significant risk of diffusion and possibly a difference in physiological effect of skin-to-metal contact versus skin-to-skin.

Given the nature of myofascial release techniques, it may be that traction stimuli can stimulate type 3 and 4 mechanoreceptors, which warrants further research in skin tension techniques such as kinesiotaping and other forms of skin stretching.  Perhaps it is possible to determine if prolonged traction stimuli can sustain increases in HRV longer following a session of manual therapy.


Carson Boddicker

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Leave a Comment »2 Comments
  • Mike December 22, 2010

    Awesome find, Carson. This is one of the few studies I’ve actually seen quantify (somewhat) CNS related recovery techniques.

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