REST for Muscle Contraction Headaches: A Comparison of Two REST Environments Combined with Progressive Muscle Relaxation Training

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Abstract

Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) has been used for many years by researchers and members of the public to produce relaxation and related benefits. Since flotation REST reportedly enhances attainment of a relaxed yet focused state, it was hypothesized that in combination with Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) training, flotation REST would have a beneficial effect on chronic muscle contraction headache sufferers. Six men and twenty-five women who experienced at least three muscle contraction or tension headaches per week were randomly assigned to one of 4 conditions in the 4 week program: soundproof room, flotation tank and room, tank plus PMR, or room plus PMR. Mean reductions from the baseline headache index (measure of frequency, intensity and duration) across groups were 32% at end of treatment, 15% at 2 months, 31% at 4 months, and 57% at 6 months. The flotation TANK + PMR Training group reported the greatest reduction (74%) at 6 months. No significant differences were found between intervention conditions. There was a significant difference within subjects across time.