The aim of this study was to clarify the effects of 45 min of facial massage on the activity of autonomic nervous system, anxiety and mood in 32 healthy women.
It was concluded that the facial massage might refresh the subjects by reducing their psychological distress and activating the sympathetic nervous system.
The study also showed that both anxiety and negative mood decreased significantly after the hands-on intervention
Autonomic nervous activity was assessed by heart rate variability (HRV) with spectral analysis. In the spectral analysis of HRV, the researchers evaluated the high-frequency components (HF) and the low- to high-frequency ratio (LF/HF ratio), reflecting parasympathetic nervous activity and sympathetic nervous activity, respectively. The State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and the Profile of Mood Status (POMS) were administered to evaluate psychological status. The score of STAI and negative scale of POMS were significantly reduced following the massage, and only the LF/HF ratio was significantly enhanced after the massage. It was concluded that the facial massage might refresh the subjects by reducing their psychological distress and activating the sympathetic nervous system.
Results of the research revealed that parasympathetic nervous activity increased
during the Massage, and sympathetic nervous activity increased after the facial Massage.
Parasympathetic ner vous activity is responsible for rest and recovery, resulting in
a relaxed physical state. On the contrary, sympathetic nervous activity is in charge
of the “fight or flight” response, resulting in a stimulated physical state.
The study also showed that both anxiety and negative mood decreased significantly after the hands-on intervention, based on the scores from the Profile of Mood Status and State Trait Anxiety Inventory.
Based on this data, the authors theorised facial massage may bring about not only relaxation benefits, but it also may have a stimulating effect, or refreshment.
“These results suggest that the facial massage had strong effects on stress alleviation, or
psychological relaxation. The increased sympathetic nervous activity following the facial
massage (…) might be a positive reaction to astressor. Such a mixed status of psychologically relaxed and physically-activated might well be regarded as refreshment rather than relaxation.”
Authors: Tomoko Hatayama, Shingo Kitamura, Chihiro Tamura, Mayumi Nagano and Koichiro
Ohnuki. Source: User Science Institute, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan. Originally
published in Biomedical Research (2008) 29 (6): 317-320.