Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Health Sciences


Rehabilitation Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Esther Dupont-Versteegden

Second Advisor

Dr. Timothy A. Butterfield


The inflammatory process is a critical component of the repair and regeneration of skeletal muscle following injury. The influx of innate immune cells following injury is intricate, and temporal nature. Although required for proper repair and regeneration, the inflammatory process has been shown to exacerbate initial damage, prolonging the healing process. Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments, such as massage therapy, are a promising substitute for pharmaceutical modulation of the inflammatory response, and recent studies into the efficacy of massage have begun to report the physiological benefits of massage application following injury. Nonetheless, there is a significant lack of sound mechanistic investigations into massage application and its effects on unperturbed tissue. To gain insight to its potential influences on healthy skeletal muscle, massage was applied at three different magnitudes of load in vivo. Using a custom fabricated device for cyclic compressive loading, Wistar rats receiving massage had an increased expression in genes associated with the immune response; a significant change in the macrophage populations within the muscle tissue; and demonstrated a systemic effect marked by the increase of immune cells in the non-massaged limb. Further elucidating the systemic and immunomodulatory effects of massage, Long Evans rats receiving non-constrained eccentric exercise followed by a single 30minute bout of massage, displayed a significant crossover effect just 6 hours post exercise through the modulation of inflammatory cells in the non-massaged limb. Together these investigations suggest that mechanotransductive properties of massage can promote modulation of the immune response absent of pharmaceuticals.