Two different Swedish massage protocols both resulted in significant decreases in markers of anxiety among a group of healthy women, according to recent research.
The study, “Comparing the effects of two Swedish massage techniques on the vital signs and anxiety of healthy women,” involved 20 healthy women. These subjects were randomly assigned to either a back, neck and chest massage group or a leg, arm and face massage group.
Study participants received three 30-minute massage sessions per week for four weeks during the first stage of the study, followed by a six-week washout period. Then, the women who were in the back, neck and chest massage group were switched to the leg, arm and face massage group and vice versa. Again, the subjects received three 30-minute massage sessions per week for four weeks during this second stage of the study.
According to the researchers, the back, neck and chest massage consisted of 15 minutes of back massage, 12 minutes of chest massage and three minutes of neck massage. The leg, arm and face protocol comprised 15 minutes of leg massage, 10 minutes of arm and hand massage, and five minutes of face massage.
The main outcome measures for this study were blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate and body temperature. In addition, the participants’ anxiety levels were measured before and after each massage therapy stage.
Results of Regular Swedish Massage Sessions
Results of the research revealed women in both massage groups exhibited a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure in the first stage. However, only those in the back, neck and chest massage group showed a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure as well. As for mean average body temperature, this outcome measure showed a significant drop in the leg, arm and face massage group in the first stage.
Pulse and respiratory rates decreased significantly among the women in both massage groups during the second stage. There was no significant difference in anxiety scores before and after either stage of massage therapy.
“Massage therapy caused a decrease in systolic [blood pressure], pulse and respiratory rate,” stated the study’s authors. “It can be concluded that massage therapy was useful for decreasing the vital signs associated with anxiety in healthy women.”
About the Study
Authors: Farzaneh Gholami-Motlagh, Mina Jouzi and Bahram Soleymani.
Sources: School of Nursing and Midwifery, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Iran; Department of Nursing and Department of Medicine, Najafabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Iran. Originally published in July 2016 in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 21(4), 402-409.