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12-03-2012 | Psychology | Article

Core stability exercises, myofascial massage improve fatigue in breast cancer survivors


Free abstract

MedWire News: A multimodal exercise program focusing on core stability exercises and myofascial release massage can significantly reduce cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer survivors, show results of a randomized controlled trial.

These improvements could be maintained at 6 months with the help of a supporting DVD, say Manuel Arroyo-Morales (University of Granada, Spain) and colleagues in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

"Our results suggest the necessity of including strength exercises in physical therapy programs for breast cancer survivors," they remark.

A total of 78 breast cancer survivors, aged 25-65 years, were included in the study. They were randomly assigned into two groups: a multimodal exercise group or a control group.

The multimodal program consisted of 24 hours of individual physical training and 12 hours of recovery procedures (stretching of muscles used during exercise and myofascial release massage techniques) conducted three times per week for 8 weeks.

After the 8-week program, they received an instructional DVD with the same exercise program, as well as neck-shoulder mobility exercises, self-massage, and relaxation techniques.

Individuals in the control group received usual care from an oncologist.

The primary outcome was cancer-related fatigue assessed using the Profile of Mood State (POMS) questionnaire. The secondary outcome measure was muscle strength assessed by the Trunk Curl Static Endurance Test and the Multiple Sit-to-Stand Test.

All outcomes were assessed before the program, immediately after the 8-week intervention, and 6 months after discharge.

Arroyo-Morales told MedWire News that the most important finding of the study was that the multimodal exercise group experienced a greater decrease in fatigue than the control group. They also exhibited greater improvements in mood state, trunk curl endurance, and leg strength compared with the control group, he said. These effects were maintained, although slightly reduced, after 6 months.

Interestingly, notes the team, the multimodal program produced large effect sizes in core-related muscles (trunk curl static endurance test) as well as nonrelated core muscles (leg muscles). Moreover, a significant negative association between changes in the total mood state and the Trunk Curl Static Endurance Test was found; the greater the decrease in mood, the greater the increase in abdominal muscle strength.

"Therefore, core stability exercises employed in our study may also be used for improving function of distal musculature through proximal (core-related) muscles," Arroyo-Morales et al suggest.

"Future studies investigating effects of supervised programs with a follow-up period based on telerehabilitation are needed."

By Nikki Withers

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