Evaluation of the effectiveness of relaxation in lowering the level of anxiety in young adults - a pilot study

Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019 Nov 15;32(6):817-824. doi: 10.13075/ijomeh.1896.01457. Epub 2019 Oct 11.


Objectives: Anxiety is a negative emotion that acts as a mediator between stress stimuli and emotional (physiological) reaction patterns. The myofascial system is particularly sensitive to stress. The aim of this study was to determine which of the 2 popular methods used to reduce psychophysical tension, i.e., soft tissue manipulation and Jacobson's progressive relaxation, is more effective.

Material and methods: This study was conducted at Gdansk University of Physical Education and Sports in the sports psychology laboratory and the manual therapy room. After performing specialist consultations and interviews to exclude potential participants with contraindications to any of the interventions, the final sample included 90 people who were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatment groups. In group I, soft tissue techniques were applied, including the techniques of post-isometric muscle relaxation, elements of myofascial relaxation of tissues, and elastic tissue deformation using the Swedish massage limited to the cervicothoracic complex. In group II, Jacobson's progressive relaxation was performed. The training consisted of tightening and relaxing specific muscle groups. The experiment was conducted under an ambulatory condition, consisting of a single physiotherapeutic session (group I) or a single progressive relaxation session using the Jacobson method (group II). The level of anxiety was assessed twice, i.e., immediately before and after the therapy.

Results: According to a repeated-measures ANOVA, each therapeutic impact was effective in reducing the level of perceived anxiety. Furthermore, the level of perceived anxiety in group I decreased significantly more than that in group II.

Conclusions: In conclusion, both the soft tissue manipulation and Jacobson's progressive relaxation techniques were efficient methods of minimizing the negative effects of stress. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(6):817-24.

Keywords: Jacobson’s progressive relaxation; cervicothoracic complex; post-isometric muscle relaxation; soft tissue manipulation; state anxiety; trait anxiety.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Autogenic Training*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Muscle Tonus
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poland
  • Young Adult