Reha Kongresse 2018


Physiological and somatosensory responses to relaxing massage in healthy volunteers.

E. Opsommer1, B. Pinazza1, G. Yersin1, N. Korogod2 (1Lausanne ; 2 Lausanne)

Massage is an emblematic technique of the physiotherapy profession, of which place among other active techniques is sometimes questioned. In the daily clinical practice, its effects have mainly been evaluated using subjective outcome measures. In this exploratory study, we aimed at multiparametric objective evaluation of the Swedish massage effect in healthy volunteers.

A group of 13 (7 women, 6 men) healthy volunteers (mean age 25 years), who experienced relaxing massage was compared to a group having rest in supine position (13 participants, mean age 32 years, 9 women, 4 men). Physiological parameters included heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV), autonomic balance between parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system (SD1/SD2), breath rate (BR) and core skin temperature. The state of the nervous system was assessed by measuring stress hormones in saliva (cortisol (sC) and alpha-amylase (sAA)) and quantitative sensory testing (QST). These data were collected before, immediately after and 15 minutes after massage/rest.

BR and HR decreased significantly after Swedish massage only. In contrast, the SD1/SD2 ratio of HRV showed similar significant increase for both groups. The core skin temperature decreased after massage and increased after rest. No significant changes were observed in sAA levels. The cortisol levels decreased significantly after rest and decreased 15 min after massage, but it was not significant. Quantitative sensory testing showed no somatosensory changes in both groups.
Discussion et conclusions

This study objectifies relaxing effect of the Swedish massage via decreasing the activity of sympathetic nervous system. The fact that cortisol levels had tendency to decrease 15 min after massage might indicate its delayed effect in comparison to rest. Larger studies using the same tools would be useful to objectify massage therapeutic effects in various patient populations.

Importance pour la pratique

Contemporary objective measurement tools are efficient to explore the physiological effects of massage. This might contribute to increase evidence level of this emblematic physiotherapy technique in various patients' populations e.g. concerning relaxation in patients with depression or elderly people.