Rolling massage acutely improves skeletal muscle oxygenation and parameters associated with microvascular reactivity: The first evidence-based study


Although it has been claimed that rolling massage (RM), may lead to improvements in skeletal muscle oxygenation, metabolism, blood flow, and vascular function, scientific evidence has not yet been provided. Thus, the current study investigated the effects of 30 s and 2 min of RM on forearm muscle oxygenation, parameters associated with oxidative metabolism, and microvascular reactivity as well as brachial artery endothelial function. Forearm skeletal muscle parameters were assessed in 12 healthy young men (26 ± 6 yrs) using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) combined with a 5-min vascular occlusion test. Additionally, brachial artery endothelial function was simultaneously assessed by measuring the relative change in brachial artery diameter normalized to the hyperemic blood flow (Normalized %FMD). These measurements were performed before and after the RM interventions performed on the anterior forearm muscles. Forearm muscle oxygenation increased after 30 s of RM (62 ± 7 to 71 ± 11%; p = 0.02) while there was no change from baseline to post-intervention after 2 min of RM. No change was observed for oxidative metabolism, however, the significant main effect (p = 0.02) for NIRS-derived reperfusion slope (%˙s−1) indicated that microvascular function improved after both 30 s (2.30 ± 0.5 to 2.61 ± 0.70%˙s−1) and 2 min of RM (2.33 ± 0.4 to 2.60 ± 0.85%˙s−1). The lack of significant effects of RM on Normalized %FMD suggest that the RM did not acutely improve brachial artery endothelial function. These findings provide, for the first time, evidence that RM improves skeletal muscle oxygenation and parameters associated with microvascular reactivity. Additionally, RM increased brachial artery blood flow, but not upstream brachial artery endothelial function.

Microvascular Research