Massage can be of various depths. It can be superficial or penetrating to quite a tissue depth. How ever studies on what effect different depth of massages produce on ANS activity are not studied largely. Recently Diego & colleagues of Touch Research Institute of Florida, USA explored the same. They took HRV (heart rate variability) as the indicator for ANS activity. This study found:
1. Effect of moderate pressure massage:
Moderate pressure massage elicits a parasympathetic nervous system response suggesting increased vagal efferent activity. Further, there is shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic activity that peaked during the first half of the massage period.
2. Effect of light pressure massage:
On the other hand, those who received the light pressure massage exhibited a sympathetic nervous system response.
Blooger’s Comments: the following must be noted.
Caution: Massages are generally perceived to be safe. However the carry over ANS effects of moderate depth is not explored. What happens if applied in cardiac patients where there is either sympathetic or parasympathetic dominance? Please try to explore before recommending such modalities or am I overcautious.
Reference: Diego et al; Int J Neurosci. 2009;119(5):630-8.