Acute Effects of Foot Reflexology Massage on Arterial Pulse Wave Characteristics after Aerobic-based and Anaerobic-based Intermittent Exercises: A Preliminary Study

Yung-Sheng Chen1, 2, Jeffrey C Pagaduan3, Wan-An Lu4, Cheng-Deng Kuo5, 6, 7, *
1 Department of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Taipei, Taipei 111, Taiwan
2 Exercise and Health Promotion Association, New Taipei City, 241, Taiwan
3 College of Health and Medicine, School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston 7250, Australia
4 Institute of Cultural Asset and Reinvention, Fo-Guang University, Ilan 262, Taiwan
5 Department of Medical Research, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei 112, Taiwan
6 Department of Internal Medicine, Taian Hospital, Taipei 104, Taiwan
7 Tanyu Research Laboratory, Taipei 112, Taiwan

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Creative Commons License
© 2021 Chen et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Department of Medical Research, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, No. 201, Sec. 2, Shipai Rd., Beitou District Taipei, Taiwan; Email:



This study used pretest-posttest randomized group comparison to investigate the acute effects of foot reflexology massage (FRM) intervention on the pulse harmonic and parasympathetic modulation after repeated sprint ability test (RSA) and Yo Yo intermittent recovery test level 1 (YOYO).


The arterial pulse wave characteristics (APW) is a physiological indicator of peripheral arterial compliance. Reflexology massage is a non-invasive intervention to improve arterial compliance. However, the acute effect of FRM on APW after intense exercise has not been examined.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the acute effect of FRM after short-term bouts of anaerobic-based and aerobic-based intermittent exercises.


Twenty-six collegiate male football/futsal players voluntarily participated in this study. All participants were randomly assigned to FRM group (n = 14) or control group (n = 12). The participants performed RSA and YOYO exercise protocols at least 3 days apart within a week. The electrocardiography (ECG), and APW of right hand (RH), left hand (LH), and left foot (LF) were recorded for 10 min in supine position before and after interventional/control period. A standard of 30 min FRM was given immediately after exercises, whereas those of control group were requested to rest comfortably on a massage table for 30 min. Non-parametric statistical analyses (The Mann-Whitney rank and Wilcoxon signed rank test) were used to compare the measured variables.


The results showed different characteristics of sympathetic nervous system index after RSA and YOYO protocols in the FRM and control groups [FRM: RSA (p = 0.01); Control: YOYO (p < 0.01)]. The results also identified similar exercise-induced modulation of 1st and 2nd pulse harmonics in LF location with or without FRM treatment.


The FRM intervention demonstrated minor impact on the recovery of APW and parasympathetic modulation after RSA and YOYO exercises.

Clinical Trail Registration Number: NCT03821805

Keywords: Recovery strategy, Peripheral arterial function, Vascular function, Repeated sprint ability, Yo Yo intermittent recovery test, APW.