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The short-term effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects | Boddicker Performance

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The short-term effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects

by on Dec 29th, 2010

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Delaney JP, Leong KS, Watkins A, Brodie D. The short-term effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects. (2002). Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37(4), 364-71.

In this study investigators examined the effects of myofascial trigger point therapy to the head, neck and shoulder areas on cardiac autonomic tone and psychological outcomes of the treatment. This article discusses the increasing popularity and base of support for the implementation of alternative therapies, particularly manual therapies, in nursing including the relative merits of preterm birth, cancer patients, and post operation pain perceptions. Delaney defines heart rate variability–cardiac autonomic tone–and discusses it’s association with a number of disease states and the stress response. Additionally, the article quotes Simons to delineate between “general massage” and “trigger point massage.”

Investigators recruited 30 healthy volunteers and created two age and sex matched groups—a control and experimental group. The experimental group received 20 minutes of a standardized trigger point massage as control groups rested in a controlled temperature and time environment for the same length to eliminate circadian alterations in cardiac autonomic tone.

Experimental subjects experienced decreased heart rate, increased heart rate variability, decreased muscle tension, and increased sense of well being. This study also hints at an appropriate treatment pressure and that pain can be a window into increases in cardiac autonomic tone, despite it’s short term stress.  Additionally, significant changes in heart rate variability were present following a fairly short treatment period, suggesting that the traditional 60 minute massage therapy treatment may not be necessary to improve cardiac autonomic tone.

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