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Percussion massage - are there benefits?

Handheld percussive massage treatment continues to grow in popularity amongst athletes and health professionals, with the aim of improving flexibility and performance, but also to accelerate recovery.

Konrad, A. et al. (2020) performed a study to observe whether a 5-minute percussion massage treatment increased calf muscle flexibility and power output. Before and after treatment ankle flexibility and maximum voluntary contraction was measured, and this group were compared to a control group who did not receive any treatment.

Results showed a marked improvement in those who received percussion massage in ankle flexibility. A possible mechanism for this change is a reduction in muscle compliance, increased blood flow, a reduction in pain perception, and increased relaxation. There were no changes to maximum voluntary contraction, meaning there were not any detrimental effects to performance when using percussion massage.

Knowing this, percussion massage could be useful in a warm-up regime to optimise flexibility, without losing muscle performance.

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