2011 – Massage Induced Changes in Stature and State Anxiety are Strongly Correlated: Consistent Results in Two Clinical Case Studies
Posted:Friday, March 31, 2017
Kim Goral, Meghan Thomason, & Christopher A. Moyer, PhD
University of Wisconsin – Stout
Introduction: Massage therapy (MT) reduces anxiety, but how it produces this effect is not known. We theorized that MT relaxes and lengthens an anxious recipient’s muscles and connective tissues enough to produce a pattern of peripheral nervous system feedback that is incompatible with a state of high anxiety, and that the relaxation of the muscles and connective tissues will be able to be assessed by precise measurement of a recipient’s stature.
Methods: We conducted a pair of clinical case studies, in which two participants diagnosed with anxiety disorders each received a series of 60‐minute sessions of full‐body MT administered by trained massage therapists. Assessments of stature and state anxiety were made immediately before and after each MT session.
Results: Participants’ stature increased (mean increases of 12 and 9 mms) and state anxiety decreased (mean decreases of 10.6 and 14.8 points on the state portion of the State‐Trait Anxiety Inventory) in response to MT sessions. In both cases increased stature was strongly and consistently predictive of lower state anxiety (rs = ‐.73 and ‐.74).
Conclusions: These uniform results are consistent with the theory that MT reduces anxiety by relaxing and lengthening muscles and connective tissues to produce a pattern of peripheral nervous system feedback that is incompatible with a state of high anxiety.