Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), Sleep, and Recovery in Elite Performers
Lana McCloughan (The University of Queensland), Stephanie Hanrahan (The University of Queensland), Ruth Anderson (Mind HQ), Shona Halson (Australian Institute of Sport, Recovery)
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is widely used with elite performers as a recovery and sleep aide. However there is currently no empirical evidence to support PMR use with this unique population. The effect of trait anxiety has been implicated in sleep onset problems in general populations, but not in a performance sample. Therefore the focus of this study was to evaluate the effects of a PMR intervention on sleep onset latency (SOL) with performers with above mean trait anxiety. The sleep of 12 elite female dancers and four elite female athletes (Mage = 21 years, age range: 18-27 years) was monitored using wristwatch actigraphy over a 14 day period with PMR intervention in Week 2. Trait anxiety was differentiated into social evaluation, physical danger, and ambiguous dimensions using the Endler Multidimensional Anxiety Scale-Trait (EMAS-T) scales. Three related samples Wilcoxon Signed Rank Tests were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of PMR in reducing SOL. Participants with high trait social evaluation anxiety showed a statistically significant decrease in SOL from Week 1 to Week 2 (Z = -2.02, p = 0.04), with a large effect size (r = .90). The results supported the need for a larger control trial of PMR as a recovery strategy for elite performers.