CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


The Role of Stretch-Based Relaxation in the Treatment of Chronic Neck Tension


This study examined the efficacy of stretch-based relaxation as compared to tenserelease progressive relaxation procedures for the reduction of muscle tension in persons reporting chronic neck pain. Stretch-based relaxation offers an alternative to the tenserelease methods when such approaches are contraindicated or not well-suited to patient needs. In the present study, 60 subjects reporting frequent and significant muscle tension or pain in the neck and shoulder areas were assigned randomly to one of three experimental groups: stretch-based relaxation (SR), tense-release relaxation (TR), or resting control (RC). After baseline psychological and physiological evaluation, subjects were exposed to a mental stressor. Following the stressor, subjects either performed one of the relaxation procedures or rested quietly. At the end of the relaxation or rest period, psychological and physiological data were again gathered. Results showed that persons in the SR condition reported significantly greater muscle tension reductions and demonstrate lower left (L) trapezius EMG activity than persons in the TR or RC conditions. Peripheral skin temperature increased following the procedures in the SR condition; in the TR and RC conditions, skin temperature declined. These results are discussed in terms of the potential roles that stretch-based techniques may play in fostering relaxation.

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