Moderate pressure massage elicits a parasympathetic nervous system response

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Twenty healthy adults were randomly assigned to a moderate pressure or a light pressure massage therapy group, and EKGs were recorded during a 3-min baseline, during the 15-min massage period and during a 3-min postmassage period. EKG data were then used to derive the high frequency (HF), low frequency (LF) components of heart rate variability and the low to high frequency ratio (LF/HF) as noninvasive markers of autonomic nervous system activity. The participants who received the moderate pressure massage exhibited a parasympathetic nervous system response characterized by an increase in HF, suggesting increased vagal efferent activity and a decrease in the LF/HF ratio, suggesting a shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic activity that peaked during the first half of the massage period. On the other hand, those who received the light pressure massage exhibited a sympathetic nervous system response characterized by decreased HF and increased LF/HF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)630-638
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Volume119
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 4 2009

Keywords

  • Heart rate variability
  • Massage therapy
  • Mechanism
  • Parasympathetic
  • Relaxation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Medicine(all)

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