by Katarzyna Krawczyk and Piotr Tomasik, (Poland)

 

ABSTRACT:

It is postulated that the effectiveness of classical massage can be reinforced with a simultaneous engagement of the visual analyzator. Thus, 1,421 females and males from 11 countries from different parts of the world were asked about their association between seven colors of rainbow and seven elements of the classical massage, i.e., effleurage, friction, kneading, percussion, vibration, shaking, and rolling.

The statistically valued associations between colors and particular massage techniques were examined, and these associations were then gender and age correlated. The results suggested that the correct selection of a color during a massage session might enhance the therapeutic impact of a classical massage session. Considering personal preference this issue should be also individually discussed with each client before treatment.

Keywords: classical massage, sense of sight, sense of touch, sensory associations 

INTRODUCTION

The sense of touch is formed in the central nervous system as a result of activation of peripheral receptors located in the skin, fascia, skeletal muscles, and periosteum of bones and joints. The various groups of peripheral receptors are responsible for the formation of the sensation of touch, pressure, vibration (mechanoreceptors), changes in local temperature (thermoreceptors), pain (nociceptors) and body position (proprioreceptors)(Hayward, et al., 2004). The activation of these receptors is the primary therapeutic tool used by massage practitioners to control and correct the client’s physical and psychological well-being.

Effleurage, kneading, friction, vibration, shaking, percussion and rolling are the regularly used massage techniques during the classical or therapeutic massage session (Zborowski, 2006; Marszalek, 2009). The regular use of classical massage is greatly beneficial for the soft tissues and inner-organ systems. It seems that such therapy is needed especially for the normal function of skeletal muscles by assisting with the supply of oxygen and essential nutrients, and removal of waste products.

Frequently, a classical massage session is supplemented by additional stimulation of thermoreceptors-massage in warm water (Schoedinger, 2008) or use of cold and hot stones (Alexandra, 2005; Fleck and Jochum L., 2006; Nelson and Scrivner, 2007, Walaszek and, Goniwiecha 2009; Walaszek and Goniwiecha, 2009) are common. To optimize the healing impact of massage, various methods of sensory stimulation are used (Magiera, 2009) in the form of aromatherapy (stimulation of smell receptors) or music therapy (stimulation of auditory system).

Little is known about the healing combination of massage and the stimulation of the visual analyzator by different colors. It is commonly accepted that the best clinical outcome of massage results if the massage room has dim light. However, we did not find any mention of the impact of color on outcomes of massage sessions despite that colors play an essential role in the human behavior, psyche and health (Graham, 1996; Pluszynska, 2009).

We proposed an integrative evaluation and scaled responses to sensory stimulation of the visual, smell, taste and audio analyzators in direct correlation with each other (Tomasik-Krotki and Strojny, 2008). In a recent study (Krawczyk, Tomasik, 2011), we examined the sense of touch (smoothness/roughness, hardness/softness) and sense of temperature (warm/hot) in correlation with different colors. The data acquired from this last study allowed us to speculate that it will be beneficial to examine the correlation of massage as a form of sensory stimulation with various colors.

We also decided that we should examine whether the addition of color(s) to the classical massage session has any clinical value for massage practitioners and their clients and, if it does, what are the best ways to apply such combinations? We examined only the effect of visible light from the shortest wavelength region of 400 nm belonging to the violet color up to the longest wavelength region of 750 nm belonging to the red color. The results of this study are presented in this paper.

METHOD

We developed the questionnaire to ask potential respondents about their association between seven colors of rainbow (red – R, orange – O, yellow – Y, green – G, greenish-blue – GB, blue – B and violet – V) and seven basic techniques of classical massage (effleurage, friction, kneading, percussion, vibration, shaking and rolling).

The questionnaire was developed in Polish and English and was distributed among 1,421 respondents (1,060 females and 361 males, aged between 13 and 82 with an average age of 30.56) in Poland, Taiwan, Sweden, India, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, Trinidad & Tobago, Nepal, the People’s Republic of China and Mongolia.

Respondents were informed about the purpose of the questionnaire, and they filled it out anonymously. We also asked them to provide us with information about their gender, age, profession and education as well as country of residence. Responses were collected in winter 2010 and spring 2011 using personal contacts and the Internet. Among the respondents were students, teachers, scientists, clerks, cosmetologists, retirees etc.

Collected data was subjected to monofactorial analysis involving the Snedecor Test at the 0.05 uncertainty level. The statistical analysis was conducted separately for female and male groups, and we additionally grouped responses by age. For the female group the value taken from the F-Snedecor distribution table for n1 = 14 and n2 = 90 degrees of freedom was F0.05 = 1.83. Corresponding data for the male group were n1 = 9 and n2 = 60 and F0.05 = 2.04. The statistical analysis was performed for both groups together for n1 = 1 and n2 = 12 degrees of freedom and the 0.05 level of essentiality F0.05 = 4.75. The summary of the data is presented in Table 1.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

We registered gender-based differences in the selection of color and matched it with a specific massage technique in every case F> F0.05 (Table 1).

Table1. Shortened statistics for color-massage technique associations

Massage Technique F F/F0.05
Females Males Females Males
Friction 3.82 4.27 1.74 2.09
Effleurage 4.63 4.64 2.53 2.27
Kneading 9.71 8.70 5.31 4.26
Percussion 9.73 8.61 5.31 4.22
Vibration 7.00 13.13 3.82 6.43
Shaking 6.17 8.59 3.37 4.21
Rolling 5.62 6.63 3.07 3.25

Table 2 presents data from the questionnaire that indicated how respondents from both genders associated different colors with massage techniques.

Table 2. Associations of colors with particular massage techniques in each gender group

Technique Gender Number of responses [%]
Colors
R O Y G GB B V
Friction F 26.79 26.70 15.66 13.86 7.83 4.06 4.52
M 31.86 24.93 9.97 8.31 14.40 5.54 2.49
Effleurage F 9.15 13.58 32.45 21.79 3.77 11.50 8.68
M 7.75 10.80 30.74 27.14 5.23 9.69 8.58
Kneading F 14.15 16.41 13.30 15.28 17.73 10.47 12.64
M 11.35 13.85 17.17 14.12 18.56 10.24 14.67
Vibration F 16.69 7.83 7.73 11.32 25.96 10.66 15.84
M 14.40 10.24 11.35 10.80 17.17 17.17 11.84
Percussion F 13.96 12.07 11.22 13.86 16.03 17.26 15.47
M 15.79 21.85 9.69 9.97 8.31 14.40 19.94
Shaking F 9.09 14.24 7.55 13.77 15.94 22.17 17.26
M 6.40 12.18 12.10 17.45 22.43 19.11 9.97
Rolling F 10.37 9.24 12.17 10.09 14.52 18.10 25.37
M 12.46 3.32 8.86 11.35 13.55 24.64 25.76


F – females, M – males. 100% corresponds to 1,060 females and 361 males. 
R – red, O – orange, Y – yellow, G – green, GB – green-blue, B – blue, V – violet. 
Dominating association of color with each technique emphasized separately for female (bold font) and male (underlined italic font) groups. 

The association of color with particular massage technique appears to change with age within the same gender group (see Table 3).

Table 3. Age-related changes in color-friction associations within each gender group

Color Gender Age interval
13-
15
16-
19
20-
24
25-
29
30-
34
35-
39
40-
44
45-
49
50-
54
55-
59
60-
64
65-
69
70-
74
75-
79
80+
FRICTION
R Female 30 23 66 39 51 15 19 12 4 10 11 0 0 1 3
Male 1 20 20 9 12 12 10 3 12 6
O Female 25 21 44 5 25 29 19 24 25 23 10 24 3 5 1
Male 14 12 24 12 0 16 2 6 9 4
Y Female 28 8 24 9 16 1 9 8 8 12 24 3 18 1 3
Male 4 0 6 3 6 4 4 6 9 4
G Female 9 12 15 12 32 6 1 0 17 12 3 3 12 9 4
Male 3 0 9 3 6 0 0 0 9 0
GB Female 7 8 7 5 3 5 7 4 25 0 0 3 3 4 1
Male 4 12 6 6 0 4 2 6 0 12
B Female 0 6 11 5 1 0 0 0 4 4 3 7 2 0 0
Male 5 8 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0
V Female 5 12 9 0 0 0 0 4 0 15 0 2 1 0 0
Male 2 0 4 0 3 0 0 0 0 0

Table 3 indicates that younger females associated friction with the red color while older respondents shifted their preferences to the orange-yellow part of the spectrum.

Respondents from the male group exhibited lesser variations associated with age. Younger males selected the orange instead of the red as their association with friction.

Considerable inconsistency in the color preferences appeared among females and males aged 55-59 who selected the orange and the greenish-blue, respectively.

Table 4. Age-related changes in color-effleurage associations within each gender group

Color Gender Age interval
13-
15
16-
19
20-
24
25-
29
30-
34
35-
39
40-
44
45-
49
50-
54
55-
59
60-
64
65-
69
70-
74
75-
79
80+
EFFLEURAGE
R Female 7 3 16 10 7 0 0 4 12 15 4 3 12 2 2
Male 5 0 0 3 0 4 2 3 6 0
O Female 16 21 17 8 9 0 15 4 21 13 11 5 4 9 9
Male 3 8 6 0 6 0 0 0 12 4
Y Female 23 17 42 12 56 32 11 16 25 38 10 27 9 12 2
Male 7 16 16 15 6 12 4 6 9 20
G Female 19 17 43 24 24 7 20 16 17 4 15 4 11 6 4
Male 5 16 17 9 3 16 12 9 3 3
GB Female 4 3 8 4 7 0 0 4 4 0 3 1 2 0 0
Male 3 0 1 6 3 0 0 3 3 0
B Female 19 12 33 8 17 7 5 4 4 4 6 2 1 0 0
Male 2 0 17 3 9 4 0 0 0 0
V Female 16 17 17 9 8 10 4 4 9 2 2 0 0 1 2
Male 8 12 11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

The majority of male and female respondents associated effleurage with a narrow band between yellow and green. Only females aged 16-19 and older than 80 chose the orange color and females between ages 70-74 selected the red. Young males associated effleurage with violet and yellow colors.

Young adult males, ages 20-24, saw effleurage associated with green and blue while older males, ages 30-34, pointed to the blue color. Males of all other age groups chose the yellow and the green.

Table 5. Age-related changes in color-kneading associations within each gender group

Color Gender Age interval
13-
15
16-
19
20-
24
25-
29
30-
34
35-
39
40-
44
45-
49
50-
54
55-
59
60-
64
65-
69
70-
74
75-
79
80+
KNEADING
R Female 11 15 28 5 17 10 7 8 12 16 9 5 7 0 0
Male 4 3 15 3 0 8 0 0 3 4
O Female 19 15 42 33 16 11 3 8 13 7 1 3 3 0 0
Male 0 4 14 3 3 0 8 6 0 12
Y Female 16 15 23 16 7 6 1 16 17 11 1 3 0 0 0
Male 11 12 12 12 3 0 0 3 9 0
G Female 7 6 26 13 23 14 10 8 4 12 9 21 6 2 1
Male 4 8 8 6 9 4 2 3 3 4
GB Female 21 17 13 6 32 8 14 0 8 15 16 5 13 13 7
Male 7 4 10 3 6 20 4 6 3 4
B Female 19 17 11 0 8 1 4 4 17 8 6 5 1 6 4
Male 3 4 6 6 3 0 2 0 9 4
V Female 11 5 33 2 25 6 16 8 12 7 9 0 0 0 0
Male 4 16 8 3 3 4 2 3 6 4

There were no specific trends registered in both groups in regard to kneading technique. There were great variations with chosen colors that respondents associated with kneading and these variation did not present an establish pattern.

Females up to 19, the 30-34 and 50-age groups selected greenish-blue and blue colors. However, females older than 20 selected red and orange colors, while respondents between ages 30-34 also pointed to the violet and females 45-54 selected the yellow. Male respondents made very close selections.

Table 6. Age related changes in color-percussion associations within each gender group

Color Gender Age interval
13-
15
16-
19
20-
24
25-
29
30-
34
35-
39
40-
44
45-
49
50-
54
55-
59
60-
64
65-
69
70-
74
75-
79
80+
PERCUSSION
R Female 14 15 27 7 15 6 6 12 28 9 2 8 1 0 0
Male 8 12 10 12 3 4 2 6 0 0
O Female 16 2 35 9 13 15 9 0 4 0 6 2 7 6 4
Male 6 16 7 9 12 8 2 9 6 4
Y Female 9 2 21 14 9 4 18 8 12 8 0 6 3 5 1
Male 2 4 12 0 0 8 6 0 3 0
G Female 9 23 22 2 9 8 4 16 8 24 9 1 8 2 2
Male 3 0 6 3 6 4 0 0 6 8
GB Female 19 21 27 21 11 14 0 8 8 9 15 9 9 0 0
Male 2 4 15 0 0 0 2 0 3 4
B Female 21 15 23 13 23 8 14 0 17 12 12 6 9 7 3
Male 9 12 9 6 0 0 2 3 3 8
V Female 16 12 21 9 48 1 4 8 8 15 7 10 2 1 2
Male 3 4 14 6 6 12 4 3 12 8

Despite that, the respondents from both groups produced a variety of responses in regard to percussion technique, some common trends can be discerned. Young females from ages 19-35 associated percussion with the green-to-blue part of spectrum. At the same time, significant numbers of females ages 20-25 and 50-55 chose red to orange and the yellow part of the spectrum. Some females from the 30-35 age group chose violet color.

In the male group, young respondents up to age 25 associated percussion with greenish-blue and violet colors.

Table 7. Age-related changes in color-vibration associations within each gender group

Color Gender Age interval
13-
15
16-
19
20-
24
25-
29
30-
34
35-
39
40-
44
45-
49
50-
54
55-
59
60-
64
65-
69
70-
74
75-
79
80+
VIBRATION
R Female 14 13 18 5 17 21 10 4 21 11 15 5 10 9 4
Male 4 8 10 3 6 4 4 6 3 4
O Female 7 14 16 11 1 0 0 8 4 17 2 2 1 0 0
Male 4 8 12 3 0 4 2 0 0 4
Y Female 7 6 22 0 16 6 1 4 4 0 9 3 0 1 3
Male 2 8 7 3 3 4 4 3 3 4
G Female 25 9 18 7 23 6 6 0 17 0 0 4 2 2 1
Male 2 8 9 6 0 4 0 6 0 5
GB Female 14 14 42 21 48 7 10 16 17 31 1 21 9 2 1
Male 7 8 13 12 3 8 2 0 9 0
B Female 21 14 31 13 7 14 15 16 8 16 15 1 5 0 0
Male 5 8 12 0 9 12 6 0 6 4
V Female 16 20 29 18 16 2 13 4 12 1 9 6 12 7 3
Male 9 4 10 9 6 0 0 6 12 12

Respondents from both groups mostly associated percussion vibration with the green, blue, violet color of the spectrum. In a difference with the percussion technique, (see Table 6) the respondents’ association switched more to the violet part of the spectrum. Some female respondents between ages 45-65 associated vibration with the red color.

Table 8. Age-related changes in color-shaking associations within each gender group

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Color Gender Age interval
13-
15
16-
19
20-
24
25-
29
30-
34
35-
39
40-
44
45-
49
50-
54
55-
59
60-
64
65-
69
70-
74
75-
79
80+
SHAKING
R Female 16 20 10 4 10 4 13 4 8 4 0 0 0 2 1
Male 5 4 10 0 6 0 0 0 0 4
O Female 9 6 17 9 48 1 9 8 8 8 9 3 9 4 3
Male 3 4 7 3 0 8 4 0 0 4
Y Female 7 20 16 5 17 1 4 0 0 4 6 0 0 0 0
Male 4 12 11 3 3 4 0 0 3 4
G Female 19 20 35 0 0 7 10 8 12 20 6 9 0 0 0
Male 8 8 13 3 0 4 4 3 12 4
GB Female 14 6 46 14 14 21 15 12 8 12 3 0 0 1 3
Male 5 12 16 6 3 4 8 3 6 12
B Female 11 15 26 26 22 20 1 16 22 16 9 21 21 8 1
Male 6 0 5 12 9 16 2 12 6 4
V Female 28 3 26 17 17 2 3 4 25 12 18 9 9 6 4
Male 2 12 10 9 6 0 0 3 0 0

Shaking similarly to percussion and vibration evoked similar associations with the green, blue and violet part of the spectrum. However, a large number of respondents from both groups associated shaking with the blue color.

Table 9. Age-related changes in color-rolling associations within each gender group

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Color Gender Age interval
13-
15
16-
19
20-
24
25-
29
30-
34
35-
39
40-
44
45-
49
50-
54
55-
59
60-
64
65-
69
70-
74
75-
79
80+
ROLLING
R Female 12 3 11 5 11 0 0 8 0 11 10 21 9 7 3
Male 6 4 10 6 6 4 0 3 9 4
O Female 11 12 5 0 16 0 0 0 9 8 12 3 12 6 4
Male 3 0 7 6 0 0 0 0 0 0
Y Female 14 20 28 19 7 6 11 0 17 3 1 0 0 2 1
Male 3 0 11 0 6 4 0 3 3 4
G Female 16 3 17 17 17 8 4 4 8 4 9 0 0 0 0
Male 4 12 16 3 6 0 0 3 9 0
GB Female 25 20 33 4 13 1 9 8 12 10 13 3 3 0 0
Male 4 12 16 3 6 0 0 3 9 0
B Female 14 12 41 10 50 6 16 12 12 16 0 0 0 0 4
Male 5 20 5 6 0 4 6 6 9 12
V Female 12 20 41 20 14 35 15 20 25 24 6 15 15 6 1
Male 6 4 10 9 9 20 12 6 3 8

Females linked rolling primarily with the green-blue, blue and violet colors but the older group of female respondents shifted their association toward the red and orange colors.

Males initially also preferred shorter-wavelength colors but with increase in age their preferences shifted to the green-blue and violet colors.

 

The classical massage session in conjunction with a properly selected color correctly adjusted to the client’s gender and age may augment the healing impact of massage therapy. Color will involve the visual analyzator into the treatment process in the same way as a practitioner uses the stimulation of auditory analyzator by music therapy or smell analyzator by aromatherapy as important components of the massage therapy session.

This study does not contain sufficient data to firmly support this conclusion but it points to the direction of further research. This study does present general guidelines for massage therapy practitioners who may consider use of color therapy as a part of therapeutic massage session.

This study also suggests that despite the statistically sound correlations between particular color(s) and massage techniques, personal preferences must be considered. Furthermore, the final decision about using color therapy as an additional tool to the massage session must be discussed with each client before any treatment.

CONCLUSION

We have discussed the results of this study with panels of physicians and psychologists to find a possible explanation between the correlations in perception of massage technique with a particular color. Ophthalmologists excluded age-dependent changes in vision as a reason for the obtained data. Endocrinologists excluded changes in hormonal levels as a DIRECT factor in the observed correlations.

We agree with the positions of the experts that age-related changes in perception of the massage technique within same gender group are the results of lesser aggressiveness of older subjects and their increased emotional stability. Colors of shorter wavelengths seem to be less aggressive.

The information disclosed in this data may have practical applications for massage therapy practitioners. We think that the best way to include activation of visual analyzator into the massage session is usage of colored light during massage session. Thus use of colored lights that match age, gender and applied techniques during treatment may enhance the therapeutic impact of massage therapy.

LED strip lights are relatively inexpensive, simple to install and easy to control using various controls including remote ones. Thus, the practitioner may enhance treatment by changing the color while changing the application of major massage techniques. For example, while applying friction therapy on a 25-year-old old woman, the practitioner uses a red color light. Then if the shaking technique is used, the practitioner may consider changing the color to blue.

Considering the practical use of data obtained by this study, we would like to summarize our recommendations below:

Effleurage techniques are associated primarily with the yellow part of the spectrum 
Kneading techniques do not have a solid color association 
Friction techniques are associated with the red-orange part of the spectrum 
Vibration techniques are associated with green-blue color 
Shaking techniques are associated with blue color for females and orange color for males 
Rolling techniques are associated with the violet color of the spectrum 

REFERENCES

Alexandra S. The Art of Stone Healing. Boca Raton, CRC, 2005. 
Fleck D., Jochum L. Hot Stones Massagen mit heissen Steinen. Saarbruecken, Neue Erde, 2006
Graham H. Healing with Colour. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan Ltd., 1996
Hamre H.J, Witt C.M., Kienle G.S., Meinecke C., Glockmann A., Ziegler R., Willich S.N., Kiene H. “Anthroposophic therapy for attention deficit hyperactivity: a two-year prospective study in outpatients.” International Journal of General Medicine. 2010 Aug 30; 3:239-53
Hayward V., Astley OR., Cruz-Hernandez M, Grant D., Roblez-De-La-Torre G. “Haptic interfaces and devices.” Sensory Rev., 24(1): 16-29, 2004
Krawczyk K., Tomasik P. “Scaling of sensory impressions of touch.” Att., Perc. Psychophys., submitted
Magiera L. “Modern massages.” Refleksoterapia, (1): 39-45, 2009
Marszalek A. Tactile sense and massage. Refleksoterapia, (3): 28-34, 2009
Nelson M., Scrivner J. The Official la Stone Therapy Manual. London, Piatkus Books, 2007
Pluszynska A. “Influence of light and color on the human organism activity.”Refleksoterapia, (1): 33-38, 2009
Pluszynska A. “Influence of light and color on the human organism activity. II.”Refleksoterapia, (2): 36-42, 2009
Schoedinger F. “Adopting Watsu for people with special needs.” In Watsu DH, Freeing the Body in Water. Middletown, Watsu Publ; pp. 119-133, 2008
Tomasik-Krotki J., Strojny J. (2008). “Scaling of sensory impressions.” Journal of Sensory Studies, 23: 251-266, 2008
Walaszek R., Goniwiecha M. “Relaxation massage with hot and cold stones.”Refleksoterapia, 2009, (2): 48-52
Walaszek R., Goniwiecha M. “Relaxation massage with hot stones.”Refleksoterapia, 2009, (3): 49-53
Zborowski A.Classical Massage, Cracow, AZ Editor, 2006, pp. 24-38


Cracow College of the Health Promotion, Krowoderska Street 73, 31 158 Cracow, Poland
Corresponding author: Prof. Dr. Piotr Tomasik Phone: +48 793 432 198; e-mail:rrtomasi@cyf-kr.edu.pl 

Ms. Katarzyna Krawczyk
Ms. Katarzyna Krawczyk was born in 1989 in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Poland. In 2011, she graduated from Cracow College of the Health Promotion with a Bachelor’s Degree in cosmetology. That same year she entered Cracow College of Management and Banking. While continuing her studies, she works as cosmetologist.

Prof. Dr. Piotr Tomasik, Ph.D.
Prof. Dr. Piotr Tomasik, Ph.D. was born in Drohobycz, Poland, and graduated from the Wroc?aw Polytechnic, Chemical Faculty, in 1959. Since 1990, Dr. Piotr Tomasik has taught food chemistry at Cracow College of the Health Promotion. His work is recognized internationally. He has conducted studies and lectured at the University of Alabama, Iowa State University, Saginaw Valley State Universities in the United States of America; Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan; University of Zimbabwe; the Garyounis University in Benghazi, Libya and Tokyo University, Japan.
Tomasik’s main fields of expertise are organic synthesis, extrathermodynamics, chemistry and technology of polysaccharides, nanotechnology, weak electrical phenomena, and psychophysics. Prof. Tomasik has either authored or co-authored 51 monographs and extended chapters, 29 review articles, five textbooks, 340 full research papers, 13 other papers and 60 patents.


Category: Stress Reduction Massage

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