Friday, March 27, 2009

The effects of massage strokes.

The effects of massage strokes.

1) The effects of massage on the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic & parasympathetic divisions.

“The nervous system responds to therapeutic massage methods through stimulation of sensory receptors” (Fritz, 2009, p.130).

The nervous system is categorised into two parts: the central and peripheral nervous systems.
i) The Central Nervous System consists of the brain and the spinal cord.

ii) The Peripheral Nervous System is further divided into the autonomic and somatic nervous systems.
· Somatic NS: is a conscious and voluntary system that accepts sensory messages from the outside. eg: skin, ears, eyes etc., and stimulates muscle and skin.

· Autonomic NS: is an unconscious, self governing and involuntary system that monitors the internal body environment to keep it in a state of homeostasis by the complimentary relationship of two sub divisions; the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
o Internal monitors that stimulate or inhibit motor impulses of visceral organs, lungs, smooth muscle, guts, glands and cardiac muscle, control these systems.

b) The Sympathetic NS is the action division and mobilizes activity or action, otherwise known as the ‘flight or fright’ response, fast. It increases blood pressure & heart rate, shuts down non-essential systems (e.g.: digestion), revs up the nervous system, and releases energy.

b) The Parasympathetic NS on the other hand is the relaxing, or resting and digestion division. It is most active when the body is at rest allowing energy conservation and undertakes the body’s housekeeping: digestion, salivation, urination, defecation, drowsing and storing nutrients for later use. When functioning it lowers blood pressure, slows and steady’s the heart, encourages digestion and elimination of waste.

The majority of massage effects, with slow repetitive rhythmic, broad based compression such as effleurage, are reflexive or indirect engaging the parasympathetic function promoting:
· General relaxation including sleep through
-decrease beta wave activity
-increase in delta wave activity –associated with sleep & relaxation.
-increase in alpha waves
· A diminishing effect on pain by the stimulation of the release of endorphins and pain reducing neurochemicals.

· Reduction of stress, anxiety and depression (by both the receiver and recipient) with
- a reduction in stress hormones cortisol, norepinephrine & epinephrine levels
-increase in dopamine & serotonin levels that are associated with stress and depression
· Improved circulation.-stimulates release of histamine.
· Improved immunity- decrease in cortisol
· Improved alertness- more balance.
· Feelings of well being or “feeling good’
Physically, mentally & psychologically.
· Neuro- endocrine effects- increases available level of Oxytocin (bonding) and Dopamine & Serotonin that are associated with stress and depression.

However this is not the first response of massage. The start of a massage promotes an instinctive protective reflex action, according to Fritz (2009) “initial massage stimulates sympathetic function”. The effect of which is decreased as “massage is slowed and sustained with sufficient pleasurable pressure” (Fritz 2009, p 138).
As the massage progresses, or is preferred, certain massage techniques are engaged, their “direction, speed and pressure’ (Salvo 2007) will further activate and stimulate sensory receptors and hence heighten the sympathetic function.

However no effects are exact, as there are many variants that will result in numerous differing degrees or levels of results.

2) The effects of massage strokes.

Touch /Holding: This establishes or ends contact, creating a calming reassuring effect ensuring no surprises for the client, helping reduce reaction or sympathetic response..
Effleurage: These are gliding stroke that begin, & end a massage or part thereof, as well as providing a transition between other strokes. It introduces touch, and enables assessment of the surface and underlying tissue engaging the parasympathetic nervous system.
Petrissage: Is a rhythmic kneading technique that milks the tissues of metabolic wastes and draws new blood and oxygen into the tissues.
Compression: or depth of pressure is applied in a rhythmic pumping action to a localised area of the muscle. It is used to stimulate circulation and nerves, and assists in breaking down connective tissue to make it relax and therefore more pliable.
Tapotement: Is a repetitive striking action undertaken in short bursts to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. It increases the blood flow; aids in decongestion of the lungs by loosening and mobilizing phlegm, and among other things can desensitize hypersensitive areas after a few minutes.
Vibration: Enhances general relaxation by shaking, quivering or rocking movements and like tapotement allow access to deeper structures such as hip rotators.

3) Other effects of massage.

Blood Flow: Increases blood flow by dilation of blood vessels, improves blood flow by the mechanical action of the massage strokes and assists blood flow in the direction of the heart if massage is applied in that direction,
Lymph Flow: promotes the circulation of lymph and enhances the lymphatic system in the elimination of excess fluid and removal of waste.
Muscle tension: Massage relaxes the tense muscle thereby enhancing blood flow, and which may in turn relieve pain.
Connective tissue: Releases tensions and restrictions in scar tissue, the retention of nutrients, and promotes blood circulation around fracture sites and thus aiding the healing process and improving strength of healed tissue. It can also alter the shape of dimple causing cellulite but not its removal.
Sleep patterns: The stimulation of the parasympathetic ns facilitates relaxation and sleep with an increase in delta wave activity.
Digestion: Also activates the parasympathetic ns of which digestion is one of its functions.
Blood pressure: Massage dilates the blood vessels and thus decreases blood pressure.
Pain: Can be alleviated in three ways:
by the relief of muscle tension- instant relief,
the release of hormones-natural painkillers or endorphins- slow,
application of pressure- immediate but providing short term relief.

Mood: Activation of parasympathetic ns activity encourages relaxation, and increases level of Dopamine & Serotonin that are responsible for improving mood.
Concentration: an increase in oxygen levels from increased blood flow to the brain in turn enhances performance adn alertness, including concentration by the removal of stress, and relaxation of the body and mind in general.
Satiety: The feeling of satisfaction is a result of neuro- endocrine effects of increases in the level of Dopamine & Serotonin.
Bonding: As massage increases the available level of the hormone oxytocin associated with bonding, it therefore enhances improved bonding. While usually associated with birth and parent /child relationship it could also be applied to client/therapist relationship as according to Wikipedia 2009 one of its actions increases trust and reduces fear.

Class notes
Txt books

Fritz, S., (2009). Mosby’s fundamentals of therapeutic massage (4th ed.). Missouri: Mosby.

Salvo, S.,(2007).Massage therapy. Principles and practice (3rd ed.). Missouri: Saunders.

Wikipedia, retrieved March 27th 2009 from,

Assessment Task 1- Blog 3:Your research process

Reflection on my research process to date. March 28th 2009.

I must admit to being at times a little perplexed by the research process and as a result I have had to spend a bit more time and effort in to getting a handle on things than I had originally envisaged.
I cannot believe that I researched and published two books, albeit not academic writings, without having any idea of the research process let alone that anything actually existed along the lines that we have explored over recent weeks!

What I’ve learnt and had reinforced so far:

· Defining the project’s idea from the outset but be open to redefining as the project progresses-
a)either because of a information or a
b)better pathway has been identified.

· Don’t form any opinion or conclusions until you have verified facts with sufficient references and reports to support your claims.

· Information gathering
From my personal projects I have learnt that you cannot have too much information. How and if you use it is another matter and this has been reinforced in our learning to date.
Do things right by following appropriate referencing and research guidelines and in as much detail as possible from the outset. It’s easier to edit (well most of the time) than have to expand at a later date.( editing is not that easy but it is a useful tool fo rdeveloping clear and logical arguments). Go from broad to finite.

· Scope of resources
Evaluating material can be misleading unless you learn to identify and align your key points.
After our latest elluminate session exercise in which we identified key words and phrases, I learnt that the scope of possible resource material is much greater than I ever envisaged.

· Credibility of dated information
In my previous research I have tried to obtain 2 sources for any stated facts. But then there are variables within that as two different people (experts) can hold vastly differing views on the same subject.
You also have to take into consideration the age (or date of information) and the subject’s perspective from that particular era- in relation to trends. In my previous projects this has been with regard to the age of the informant, the age they were when they formed the memory- was it theirs or what they had been led to believe or told by others. Sometimes this was difficult to state this information so I had to make a informed generalization rather than a factual statement.
In any research inaccurate or "shady" reporting is called specualtion and will immedialty put you back into the assumptions/bias bucket. The skill in research is very much about accuracy/ reliability/truth etc and at alll stages you are expected to be able to rationalise into logivcal and referenced/ supported research. If you do not know something, do not guess and do not report inaccuratley. State your "not knowingness". You cannot generalise unless your study proves the same.

The position they were in the family eg: eldest or youngest each have different perspectives of family life, experiences etc.
This has proved to be no different in academic writing for research. This kind of information establishes whether or not you will do quantative or qualitative research. The role and positions of each family member will become the variable( quantative) or the phenomena/ signifcant difference( qualitative) under investigation.

· Referencing
It is so important to accurately record references, so that if revisiting is required at a later stage the reference is readily accessible. This can become confusing so good organized recording methods are necessary. Due credit must be given to quotes or material used from research- i.e.: Comprehensive reference and in text referencing.

· Unfamiliar terms:
There are a lot of unfamiliar terms and processes to learn understand and carry out
e.g.: Qualitative, quantitative, methodology, data analyse, memos and triangulation.

All of these reinforce the credibility of any research project. So, as the old adage goes, if something is worth doing it is worth doing properly- whether it be a research process or undertaking a form of study or reading instructions. For example you would want to be treated by a surgeon who doesn’t fully understand the whole process he is going to undertake on you now do you!

I had thought that undertaking a research project, relating to massage, some time in the future would have been a possibility, now I’m not so sure it is within my capabilities!

Key points to remember:
*be meticulous in all facets of the project.
*avoid abbreviated words.
*used specific wording.
*editing is part of the research process.

Collaborative research project

In our collaborative research project we have discussed possible subjects, revised and further discussed and revised ideas, followed by even more revision and definition of our idea with our lecturer to:
“Does massage support the rituals an athlete goes through before an event, to address anxiety levels”?

Our first task was to define key words, (rituals, athlete, anxiety, support), and record them in our glossary.

We are now in the process of:
i) devising a questionnaire for athletes to establish whether or not they have a ritual, anxiety and whether or not they use massage in their ritual to help overcome their anxiety, and at what stage of their preparation they use it.
ii) Exploring, from our own resources, the known effects of massage on the human body system.

Further explore any work on the topic.
Relate findings to an athlete’s anxieties.

We know that massage has positive enhancing effects on most of the human body systems, and as athletes are human then it would be more than reasonable to expect that massage would have a positive effect on an athletes anxieties. Theoretically every athlete who suffers from any form of anxiety pre competition should use massage as part of his or her ritual.
However, we need to keep in mind that certain amounts and kinds of anxieties can enhance an athlete’s performance in the short term- so we have to ensure that the massage does not impinge on this area.

Thoughts to ponder & discuss with the group:
Perhaps our question should be further refined along the lines of:
“Does massage support the rituals and athlete goes through before an event, to address anxieties that have a negative impact/ physical debilitating effect?”

When athletes are seen to shake them selves (arms & legs) immediately prior to competing (eg: sprinters, swimmers) are they performing a ritual, and is it a form of (unknowingly) massage ritual?

Research methods overall.
High point: enthusiasm of participants top get the group project done
Low point: the thought of spending too much time on undertaking blogs in the context of the course paper credits.

At this point I’m looking to the successful competent completion of assignments.


Collaborative group notes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Describe how information from different sources may vary in quality, and how to differentiate good quality information from poor quality.
Comment about sourcing quality material for research purposes.

‘Knowledge, generated by researchers and theorists, builds a coherent and distinct “body of knowledge” through scholarly publications and presentations’ (Schneider, Z., Whitehead, D., Elliott, D., Lobiondo-Wood, G.,& Haber, J., (2007).

There are many sources of information available from which to collect material for research purposes. Within that is a vast range of quality. It is therefore vital to correctly identify relevant quality information from which to base a research project.

The researcher needs to systematically evaluate the source of the information followed by the quality of the content.

1) Sources
These can include:
· Publications
· Reference books,
· Textbooks,
· Journals,
· Conference papers,
· Research papers & articles
· Web sites.

The researcher then needs to establish whether or not the publication source is either:
· academic (reference/text),
· scholarly (e.g.: journals, and whether it is peer reviewed or not)),
· popular or non scholarly (general audience- e.g.: newspaper article.)
For the purpose of research the former two sources are preferred when found in already evaluated material.

Web sites
There are large volumes of unevaluated information readily at hand on the web. Some of this is well researched and highly accurate while other is personal opinion or hearsay.

2) Factors to take into consideration.
Some important factors to take into consideration when evaluating material:

i) Whether or not the material is a primary (original works) or secondary (studies by other researchers) source.
According to Taylor, B., Kermode, S., & Roberts, K., (2006) primary sources are those written by the author and are new and are the authors own ideas, whereas secondary sources are those to which an author refers.
eg: Primary sources: statistical data, speeches, interviews, research reports, original documents.
Secondary sources: describe, analyse, and/or evaluate information found in primary sources. Data is repackaged, to make information more accessible in books, journals, encyclopedias, etc.

ii) Scholarly works are valuable sources for research purposes. eg: theoretical papers, reports , procedures, results, review papers and books written by authorities.

iii) Refereed journal articles are considered more scholarly than non-refereed.

iv) The production of research books takes up to five years from the time it is written up and appears in a journal and is then cited in a book, so the information contained may not be considered current in some areas due to the time lapse. However bibliographies of research books can be useful sources of references, as are conference papers.

v) Authoritative reports and theses, are now easier to access on the web.

vi) Journals are the most valuable resource for research. (Taylor et al. 2006).

Credibility criteria.
A number of important criteria are then applied to the source in order to ascertain the publications credibility and include:
· Authority or status of the source,
· Date of publication,
· Current- whether the information is current at time of publication,
· Reliable- presentation of material in an sequential, logical and comprehensive manner, well researched with supporting evidence,
· Relevance- to the topic,
· Scope or time period covered,
· Bias &objectivity (except for facts there will always be an element of bias),
· Appropriate context,
· Integrity- moral and ethical,
· Verification of author/s and their credentials & acknowledged experience,
· Verification and accuracy of factual material and claims,
· and that sources are acknowledged in a correctly recorded reference list.
With respect to web sites all of the above and :
· the most recent update
· the quality of the site must be established.( was it recommended by a lecturer or tutor)
ie: are the links on the site reliable , and do they work, and
· Who is hosting the site. eg: personal, Government department, an institution, organization, or a commercial enterprise ( drug company or some one who has a commercial interest in the promotion of the material contained).

3) Quality of content
The quality, or ‘degree of excellence” (Swannell 1986), of content is ascertained by the credibility of the source criteria as mentioned above.

An example “In determining level of objectivity". Retrieved March 21st from
Material from the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.govt) reflects a balanced unbiased source, compared to something from the Institute of Historical Review (, a hate site which is totally biased, and an article “Not another Scare” ( is biased in addition to containing no documented references or claims.

Evaluating and differentiation of information for quality is something that develops over time by trial and error, with practice and experience.
It would be fair to say that the more credible the number of source criteria that are met the more reputable the quality of the information.

Bill Robertson Library
Text Books

Reference List

Schneider, Z., Whitehead, D., Elliott, D., Lobiondo-Wood, G., Haber, J., (2007). Nursing & midwifery research (3rd ed.). Sydney: Mosby Elsevier.

Swannell. J.,(ed)., Little Oxford Dictionary, 6th ed. (1986). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Taylor, B., Kermode, S., & Roberts, K., (2006). Research in nursing and healthcare: evidence for practice (3rd ed.). Australia: Thomson.

Web Resources:
The Virtual Chase, retrieved March 21st from

Wikipedia, retrieved March 21st from, retrieved March 21st from

University of Alaska Fairbanks, retrieved March 21st from

Walt Howe, retrieved March 21st from

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Research Method Process

The Research Process Barbara Newton
March 2009

Research is the investigation of new ideas to an important question that has been identified. The process begins by obtaining some understanding of the concept by locating and looking at theories and other research findings prior to the carrying out of the actual investigation in a procedural manner. The data that is collected is then analyzed and interpreted and formulated to reach a conclusion that is presented to share with colleagues and peers.
The research process, as defined by our lecturer consists of 8 steps: an idea; literary review; methodology; method; analysis of data; interpretation of data; conclusion and discussion.

The steps are as follows:

1) An idea or belief.
The process begins with a question formulated by the researcher(s) from a hypothesis that comes from your own experience or that of someone else. The question must identify the main concepts &/or contain keywords obtained through brainstorming the idea, which is then revised numerous times and re drafted to form a specific question with realistic parameters. The question needs to be simple, clear and worded in concise language
To be tested the question needs to have a high degree of probability, yet not be a yes or no type of question, be important, relevant, measurable and above all ethical.

2) Literature review.
The researcher needs to read a wide range of material as possible and learn what other researchers have to say about the topic. If they have whether or not they have answered the question in a convincing manner or not. ie: Is it a considered opinion, or a statement based on a stated interpretation of collected data in an orderly and scientific way? And on what basis did they make their conclusions. Sources of such literature may include reference texts, periodicals, journals, unpublished papers, or the internet. Another factor to take into consideration
is with regard to the author of the material and whether they are an acknowledged,respected and reliable source.
Information gathering should follow from general to specific as the process progresses and every opportunity should be made to discuss this material with others, whether they be colleagues or friends,to get their insight on the subject.
Bibliographies from any of the above also provide an excellent source of possible information as it is important to go to the primary source of information where ever possible to ensure you get the thoughts and facts in the correct context.

3) Methodology
This ties in closely with the methods to be used for the study and concentrates on developing or deciding just how the data is to be collected to test the question. It needs to be ethical, relevant, verifiable and valid with no variables.

4) Methods
Once the methodology has been ascertained the actual collection of data can begin via any number of different methods or procedures to find out if the question can be answered convincingly. These may include one or more of a variety of methods such as: interviews, questionnaires among a fixed gender, age or specific interest group relating to the question. During this collection process every effort must be made to ensure the anonymity and confidentiality of all participants.

5) Data analysis
Once all the data has been collected it is the researcher’s job is to evaluate it from all angles- both of a positive or negative nature, and then make their judgment and consequent interpretation.
The collected data may be illustrated by way of graphs, charts, tables or figures for easier analysis, interpretation and discussion presentation.

6) Interpretation of data
Once analyzed with a critical eye, the researcher will make their interpretation, in an unbiased manner with regard to the question. It may include what the data didn’t say and whether or not the data was as expected or different.

7) Conclusion
The analysis and interpretation of the factual data is expressed clearly and understandably in a written statement relating to any generalizations that are made and demonstrate its [data] consistency in warranting such a conclusion.
It must be remembered that the researcher has no control over how the research is interpreted by other parties so it is important to ensure the conclusion is expressed clearly and easily understood to avoid misinterpretation.

8) Discussion
The conclusions would then be communicated and shared with colleagues via;
blogs; presentations, meetings, newsletters or other publications etc as seen fit and appropriate.

So in essence the research process, as described above, involves identifying, locating, assessing, analyzing and then development and expression of your ideas.

Bill Robertson Library
Class Notes

Payton, O. (1994). Research: The validation of clinical practice (3rd ed.). Philadelphia: F. A. Davis Company.

Polit, D.F., Beck, C.T., (2006). Essentials of nursing research. Methods, appraisal and utilization(6th ed.).Philadelphia; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Polit,D.F., Beck, C.T., (2004). Nursing research. Principles and methods (7th ed.). Philadelphia; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Class notes/ elluminate session: Molloy,F., March 2nd 2009.

Cornell University Library, retrieved March 4th 2009 from

Suffolk University, retrieved March 4th 2009, from

University of Alaska Fairbanks, retrieved March 4th 2009 from