Mickelwright, D., Griffin, M., Gladwell, V., & Beneke, R. (2006). Assessing the reliability of experimental massage techniques using a Kistler Force Plate. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(5), Supplement Abstract 2203.

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This study compared the force and speed of each stroke between effleurage, pétrissage, and tapôtement massage techniques and evaluated the test-retest reliability of each. Ss (M = 10; F = 10) received two massage treatments separated by 24 hours. Each massage treatment comprised 30-second bouts applied to the S's back and one calf. All treatments were performed by the same qualified massage therapist. The timing and force of each massage technique was recorded using a Kistler force plate. The massage couch was mounted onto the force plate using a custom built interface.

During effleurage mean force was higher, mean cycle duration was longer, and mean cycle rate was slower than pétrissage and tapôtement. During pétrissage mean force was also found to be higher, mean cycle duration longer, and mean cycle rate slower than tapôtement.

Implication. Stroke force and speed varies between massage techniques, however test-retest reliability of massage delivery is only moderate. Standardization of experimental massage protocols might be improved by using a timing device rather than depending on a therapist’s self-regulation skills. It is likely that therapists will vary considerably although they adhere to the same "labeled" massage technique.

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