I know that I often say that one of the benefits of massage is that it may reduce anxiety. I think most people would agree that being in hospital or undergoing hospital procedures may makes us feel anxious. So I was interested in a recent study that looked at the effectiveness of massage with or without guided imagery (a therapist talking you through a scene to help you relax), prior to cardiac catheterisation. As you can imagine anxiety is very common in patients prior to cardiac catheterisation, which can lead to high blood pressure and increase the amount of sedation necessary to complete the procedure.
Fifty five patients opted to receive either a 15-minute massage (31 patients) and a 20 minute guided imagery (24 patients) in a quiet area of the hospital prior to cardiac catheterisation. Self-report anxiety levels, blood pressure and heart rate were evaluated in the research participants as well as matched for comparison to a control group not taking part in the study.
The results indicated that massage, with or without guided imagery, produced significant reductions in self-reported anxiety, with the combined intervention having a more pronounced effect. In addition a lower diastolic blood pressure and heart rate were found when compared to the control group.
In my experience slow, deep stokes help to reduce anxiety and as a team we often incorporate this into treatments.
Amstrong K, Dixon S, May S, Patricolo GE (2014). Anxiety reduction in patients undergoing cardiac catheterisation, following massage and guided imagery. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 20 (4): 334 - 338.