A research study published in the Massage Therapy Foundation’s International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork discussed the impact of self-massage on the quadriceps muscle of individuals with osteoarthritis of the knee in a two-group trial.
After receiving conﬁrmation and a written diagnosis from their physicians, 40 adults who reported pain, stiﬀness and diﬃculty with physical function were randomly assigned to either an intervention or control group.
In addition to usual care, participants in the intervention group attended one-hour supervised self-massage sessions twice weekly for eight weeks, which was followed by unsupervised self-massage twice weekly at home for three weeks. Members of the control group continued usual care only, returning for assessments at four-week intervals.
The massage strokes used by the intervention group included deep gliding strokes to soften and lengthen muscle ﬁbers, tapotement with a loose ﬁst to stimulate circulation and friction applied without lubricant to compress a small area while moving the tissue back and forth using short strokes around both knees’ tendon attachment.
Of the 40 men and women who participated in the study, only 36 remained after the study concluded with 18 members in each group. At baseline, both groups were given the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) and range of motion assessment. The average range of motion for right ﬂexion and left ﬂexion was 108 degrees, and the average range of motion for right extension was 6.7 degrees and 7.1 degrees for left extension.
At the end of the study, researchers found an overall improvement in stiﬀness, function and pain for the intervention group, while the control group remained the same. Speciﬁcally, diﬀerence in pain between the intervention and control group proved signiﬁcant, particularly when walking on a ﬂat surface, ascending or descending stairs, sitting or lying, and standing up. Signiﬁcant diﬀerences in stiﬀness were also established between the intervention and control groups, particularly when ﬁrst waking up in the morning and lying, sitting or resting later in the day.
For physical function, highly signiﬁcant results were found for self-massage for ascending and descending stairs, rising from sitting, getting in and out of bed, and rising from bed, to name a few.
While self-massage had no eﬀect on range of motion for either group, the results suggest that self-massage does have an impact on stiﬀness, pain and physical function.
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