Posted in Coaching

Returning to the blogosphere

It’s been about 2 years since I have written a blog post. I used to do it mainly to tie in with my university study, and since I finished I haven’t really had the inclination. For some reason today I thought it might be a good time to start again.

Since finishing study I have gone through some significant changes in my personal life, including getting engaged and having a baby, and professionally I have gone from managing a basketball association to casually coaching to now becoming a full time coach with the QAS volleyball program. The program has had some fairly significant structural changes in both staff and athletes.

QAS logo

The Volleyball Australia Queensland Academy of Sport Volleyball Program (I know its a mouthful, that’s why we just go with QAS Volleyball for short) has been around for years. It has led to Queensland being the dominant state for volleyball in Australia. (I haven’t got figures on how many Queenslander’s are in national teams just now, but I will in the near future and I’ll put them up)

2017 see’s a change in head coach (Craig Marshall) and the addition of a full time assistant coach (that’s me!). While we have maintained what we believe are a lot of the strengths of the program from recent years, our goal is to make the program better and take it forward with new innovations and improvements. To successfully do this Frog (Craig) and I have regular discussions about volleyball skills and tactics, as well as what he likes to call “the art of coaching”. I figure the best way to record some of this information is to put it up on a blog. After all, we want everyone to benefit from any good ideas we have, and if we can get some more from other people as well even better.


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Personal and Professional Use of Social Media

I used to think that social media meant online friend groups and photo sharing, but with more exposure to social media platforms, I have been exposed more to what social media really is. Social media is an instrument of communication that can be used to keep in contact with friends, form workplace relationships or provide information. It doesn’t just give you information, but allows you to interact and participate in the situation, through question and response, comments or making suggestions based on other users similar interests.

I maintain a facebook, twitter and blog accounts for personal use, where I am able to talk with friends and share photos from holidays and generally keep in touch with people who would otherwise fade out of my life. These social media resources also make it possible to communicate with colleagues and discover new information. Professionally I use team management websites to help with the logistics of teams that I coach, and maintain professional relationships with people on LinkedIn. By having accounts of my own on all of these social media sites, I am also able to keep up to date with what other people are using social media for. I read blog posts, articles and forums that I would otherwise never have known about.

Web 2.0 is the move toward a more social, collaborative, interactive and responsive internet (Nations, D.). It is the second stage of development of the Internet and a change in the philosophy of internet use. Web 2.0 is typically characterized through dynamic or user-generated content and the growth of social networking rather than the static web pages of old.

Using Web 2.0 makes it possible for every person and business to develop their online identity to great benefit.


Risks of Social Media

The honeycomb method is used to separate social media use into seven functional blocks; Identity, Presence, Relationships, Reputation, Groups, Conversations and Sharing. These functional blocks can help examine user experience and their implications (Kietzmann et. al.). Each of these segments have their own set of implications and require different strategies to maintain and manage them. All of the different functional blocks have their own associated risks.

A single person may have accounts with a number of different social media networks, and may also have multiple accounts with a single service. Typically there are three categories of use for social media services; Personal, Professional and Official. A personal profile is used for non-work related information sharing, typically with friends. A professional profile is where a person can make comments in a personal capacity, but is able to reflect using their professional expertise. Finally, an official account is used by an individual or group when they are commenting in their capacity as an employee of an organisation (Waugh, P. & Barger, A).

Social media is changing the way to work and communicate, offering a new way to engage with customers, colleagues, and the world at large (intel). Social media is fast becoming one of the busiest and most commonly used technology in the world. Almost 60% of people worldwide have some kind of online profile, and as much 98% of 18-24 year olds are engaged with social media ( With so many people engaged with social media it is almost impossible to prevent problems from arising with someone when you post onto public forums.

Maintaining anonymity is not an option on the internet. The best you can hope for is controlling what information is available about you to the public. There are any number of risks that every person has to be willing to accept, some of the most significant for personal profiles include:

Improper use of personal information

Posting inappropriate images or messages onto public forums

Breach in intellectual property

Change in services resulting in unexpected bills

Being aware of the risks, and having a plan to mitigate any problems that might arise can help maintain a positive public image and reduce the risk of damage to your reputation.


Social Media Code of Conduct

Personal and professional profiles on social media each require management in different areas. They target different audiences and therefore may need different information and censoring.

Professional profiles are aimed more towards colleagues and work related associates. This means that your reputation is on the line with every comment you make. Everything you put onto your profile is going to impact what people think of you professionally. These opinions can also be affected by personal profiles.

While there are some areas that will be different in personal profiles compared with professional profiles, it is prudent to maintain both with the highest standards and have a simple code of conduct that is relevant to both as there is almost always going to be overlap.

Most businesses will have policies on social media and best practice guidelines. Everyone will have a different opinion on what you should and shouldn’t do, but at the end of the day it is the responsibility of the individual to control what their public image is and what they put onto social media.

For both personal and professional profiles:

Knowledge – Know the media you are using, and your audience

Responsibility – Be responsible for everything you post; think before you click. If you don’t want it there don’t post it. If you don’t want it there, remove it, don’t leave it for later.

Honesty – Be honest with your opinions, and be willing to justify them later

Security – Only use credible social media platforms and regularly update privacy settings, keeping up to date with changes in service policies of the sites you are using.

For personal profiles it is important to:

Protection – Only make connections with people that you are willing to have see your personal information and private activities.

For professional profiles it is important to:

ModerationLimit personal information shared only to what is necessary for public viewing. Only share the information about your organisation that is safe to share with everyone.

Professionalism – Keep personal issues and private activities completely out of your professional profile.

In all cases, knowledge is key. If you know who can see it, and what at the ramifications of your comments are, then you are in a better position to decide if it is appropriate to post.


Bennett, W. L., 2008, Changing Citizenship in the Digital Age. Civic Life Online: Learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth. The MIT Press. 1–24

Kietzmann, J.H., Hermkens, K., McCarthy I.P. & Silvestre, B.S., 2011, Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Business Horizons, 54, 241-251

Waugh, P. & Barger, A., 2012, Using Social Media in the Public Service: A Short Guide for Public Servants, Office of the Australian Government CTO, Technology and Procurement Division, Department of Finance and Deregulation.


Posted in Uncategorized

Social Technographics

The Trending

What’s the best way to understanding your customers? The answer is looking at social technographic profiles. You may wonder how you define such a term, well when you break it down into two words you have the word meaning social referring to people to people activities in groundswell. The next term is technographics refers to the methodology used for researching consumers. The social technographic profiles can be broken done into 6 groups.

1. Creators: publish a blog or online article at least once a month.
2. Critics: react to online content by being responsive to online posts.
3. Collectors: save the information they like
4. Joiners: create and maintain profiles on social media sites
5. Spectators: consume what others produce online
6. Inactives: nonparticipating

It’s hard to imagine that online users can be categorized into just 6 groups. Although I would classify myself as a joiner, recently with this blog…

View original post 206 more words

Posted in Uncategorized

Internet – changing the way we do things

Everything you do on the internet links to something else, or sends information to another person, or adds your profile to another list. Nothing has defined boundaries or finite barriers, and managing your “digital footprint” becomes increasingly difficult. On the other hand, using or not using these tools can completely alter the success of an organisation. Recently the Canberra Knights ice hockey folded, through the use of online tools the club has been able to obtain around $28,000 in crowd funding through mycause. When you think that a simple photo by Ellen Degeneres can get over 3 million retweets, the possibility to access a global audience is unbelievable.

In doing my final semster at uni, I now am involved in a couple of marketing subjects that have a strong focus on social media and internet usage. The way these subjects have been designed relies on the use of web based tools and social media to participate in coursework. This has had my head in a bit of a spin as nothing is structured the way I want it and everything is open to your own experience. I am now wondering if the modern need for immediacy and instant satisfaction ties into the way we now have to make sense of everything in our lives.

Social media is used in sport across every level. Promotion of teams and products, as well as players and competitions. Social media has created new opportunities to connect with fans and makes communication easier and cheaper than traditional radio or television mediums. Twitter is now becoming a huge tool along with facebook for managers and coaches to get information to their players and their fans, whether it is professional or social, these websites are becoming the way for teams to communicate. Athletes use twitter to increase their support numbers and promote their brandings. 

Twitter and facebook take seconds to use and have long term access at almost no cost. It makes it possible to stay current with events and inform the wider community whats going on and what to expect. The size of the audience is unlimited and the opportunity to view the information either immediately or at a later date make it more desireable and easier to access.

Posted in Coaching, Uncategorized

Potential and Talent

I was reading a post by Alexis Lebedew, There’s More to Talent, and it reminded me of a previous conversation I had with him. Essentially the idea that people exactly meet their potential as otherwise they would have achieved more was the topic.


While a junior athlete still has the potential to achieve anything, by the end of their career this potential diminishes to what they have already achieved. In essence someone will meet their potential. The heights of their achievement however may be limited by their motivation, physical attributes, uncontrollable factors or any of an innumerate list of things that can hold someone back from ultimate success.


This poses an issue when it comes to talent identification however. If you dont know all of the extrinsic factors that are going to influence them, you cant accurately identify talent. Every coach knows that the biggest or best or strongest or most gifted wont necessarily be the one at the end of the day that wins, there are always other things that come into play. Coaches however have to weigh up the liklihood of someone being successful, and this is when the typical notion of potential come from. While someone may eventually meet their true potential, coaches explore athletes hypothetical potential looking at physiology, physchology and circumstance.


You never really know who will be the best, but you can make an educated guess at who is most likely.

Posted in Uncategorized

Social Media

As part of my degree I am now undertaking a subject called “Social Media”. I used to think that social media meant online friend groups and photo sharing, but over the last year or so I have done a few subjects at uni that have exposed me a little more to what social media is. This blog for instance was started up due to a subject at uni, and then linked to another subject blog I had to do later. Having never considered writing a blog before it was interested to see who read what I posted and what they had to say in return.

You can be offered jobs through LinkedIn, I have learnt valuable information from people I have never met or spoken with on blogs, and you can maintain friendships with people that live on the other side of the world through facebook. I have facebook, twitter and blog accounts, but due to my infrequency of use, I only really get a chance to read and communicate with people that I already know and speak with. When I see some of my friends and colleagues blogs and the amount of engagement they get, its easy to see how beneficial these applications can be, and understanding these resources is the first step to being able to use them to benefit yourself.

I mainly look up blogs and posts that relate to either my study at the time, or things that i am interested in, typically volleyball, however on the odd occasion interesting topics pop up out of nowhere. This is one of the best things that I can see about social media, the accidental conversations that you can join, and the wealth of knowledge you can obtain, through the variety of sources that can be linked together. On the other hand though, the risk of people abusing these resources and the loss of security are always a concern. Hopefully as people share more and more information this issue will be minimised, whether through safety protocols or simple knowledge and understanding by the users.

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The solution to doping in sport through removal, education and role models

In the last blogs we showed how doping in sport can be used without detection with the use of a placebo and this brought about the problem of ethics, if it is so easy to do what is there to stop us from doing it. The players have many influences and many if these influences drive toward winning no matter what and this may include taking drugs. Even with the known risks of drugs players still use them to get the edge they may need.

The possible solutions which were developed in the last blog include removing drugs from sport and using elite athletes as a role model for the junior players. Some other solutions may include could include education for all people involve, such as the coach, physician, athlete and parents if they apply.  This quote was used in the last blog “For athletes who want to compete clean, the threat that they may be beaten by a competitor who is not faster, stronger, or more dedicated, but who takes a drug to gain the edge, is profoundly personal” (Murray, 2009) The players that “compete clean” would be more inclined to help keep drugs out of sport and keep the sport as competitive as possible.  (Are AFL Footballers Positive Role Models, 2013)

With the solutions that available there are pros and cons of all. The first solution of removing drugs from sport has been tried before or at least the drugs that increase the performance the most have been banned. The positives with this method is that it detects some drugs cheats and removes them from the game. The negatives with this method is that as seen in the first blog, some may be able to get around the tests which are used. “WADA promotes global research to identify and detect doping substances and methods; exploring new models for enhanced detection; develops and maintains the annual List of Prohibited Substances and Methods; accredits anti-doping laboratories worldwide; monitors Therapeutic Use Exemptions granted by stakeholders.” (Priorities – World Anti-Doping Agency, 2013)

The second solution is to get the elite athletes to be a role model for other players looking to compete. One competition that has used this method already is the AFL that have recognised and that “young people can be influenced by the behaviour of high profile sports people. AFL players have volunteered to be at the forefront of the fight against the use of illicit drugs; their message is strong and clear: ‘say ‘no’ to drugs.’” (AFL, 2013) Even though the AFL is targeting illicit drugs, if they see it as something that can help the younger generation it could work for all drugs including performance enhancing. The positives is that it can get the message to the junior players and AFL players should be less likely to use drugs no matter what form. The negatives are that if not all the players are not on board and some set a bad example and the program may then be no use anymore.

The third solution of education is easy as it can be put into schools and stated from a young age. The negatives of this is that some people may not get this education or they may not listen and just want to win and it doesn’t matter how they do it.

            The priority of solutions would be to get as many people involved as possible in order to get the best results. The more people who are involved the easier it will be to implement. If players just wanted to compete for the love of the game and competition, it would be easy because the use of drugs would be minimal.

The removal of drugs from sport with banning certain drugs is a good solution as long as testing is conducted at random often intervals to catch those out who may be using a placebo or similar. Banning drugs make it less likely for someone to use in sport which is an amazing positive. (Stewart, 2008)

With more people and bans on drugs it could be a possibility that drugs in sport can be eliminated leaving only training and genetics to determine the winner of the game.

Education starting at a young age would be the optimal time and in order to get this to start, the education department, clubs and institutes would needed to be brought in and be responsible for their areas. WADA is another which could help in this with getting information out to those who need it.

The time in which it may take is a couple of years to get all that need to be involved, although some things may be able to be implemented straight away, similar to the AFL, if other sports could do the same this would show good examples in all sports and get the message out there. The message being that not only are drugs harmful but winning with the use of drugs doesn’t give the same satisfaction as winning without.

The benefits of getting drugs out of sport are vast and apply differently to everybody. The removal of drugs from sport will in general benefit the sport rather than the players as it will make it more competitive for all and the detriments to player’s health from drugs will also be minimised due to the decrease in use. Can this happen, even though it may take a few years there is still the possibility of drugs being completely removed from sport.


AFL. (2013, October 30). Say no to drugs. Retrieved from

Are AFL Footballers Positive Role Models. (2013, October 30). Retrieved from

Beckett, A. H. (1981). Use and abuse of drugs in sport. J. Biosoc. Sci.(Suppl.),7, 163-170.

Murray, T. (2009). Drugs, Sport, and Ethics. Exploring Bioethics. 1-7.

Priorities – World Anti-Doping Agency. (2013, October 30). Retrieved from World Anti Doping Agency:

Stewart, A. C. (2008). Drug policy in sport: hidden assumptions and inherent contradictions. Drug and Alcohol review, 123-129.

Posted in Uncategorized

Is Self-Efficacy a Mechanism of the Placebo Effect?

Separating the effects of self-efficacy and the placebo effect is often a difficult task for a coach or athlete to complete. Traditionally self-efficacy has five primary mechanisms under which it acts; past mastery experience, modeling through vicarious experience, goal setting, verbal persuasion and anxiety (Bandura, 1982). Studies into the placebo effect have shown it too uses a number of different mechanisms including; opioid antagonism, expectation, classical conditioning, enhancing voluntary response and neural firing, reducing anxiety, increasing self distraction techniques and increasing working memory and executive attention (Benedetti 2005, Meissner 2011, Petrovic & Ingvar 2002, Wager & Smith 2003). Is it also possible that self-efficacy is a mechanism of effect for placebos, or do they exist independently of one another? Expectancy causes self-efficacy when a placebo is mediated by expectancy (Stewart-Williams 2004) and as such there is a relationship between placebo and self efficacy. This relationship has not been thoroughly examined and further research into the potential of a dual process.

Placebos inherently involve some kind of deception (Beedie 2007). Whether it is through the use of inert substances (Benedetti 2005) or an intervention with no intrinsic remedial value (Kamper & Williams 2013). This deception lies at the core of something being a placebo, however it has been suggested that it is possible to successfully induce a placebo effect without this deception occurring (Meissner 2011). If this is truly the case then further psychological mechanisms such as self-efficacy may explain this effect. The use of an intervention in which a person believes they will gain an increase in performance can lead to an actual improvement of results (Beedie 2007). If this is viewed as an increase in self efficacy through the intrinsic belief the individual gains, then how can we know if the placebo effect or self efficacy are the cause? Looking at double dissociation and dual process learning, it may be possible to analyse whether both mechanisms acting together, or whether there is a component of each acting independently, or potentially if both are required for the other to work.

Double dissociation is the demonstration that two experimental manipulations each have different effects on two dependent variables; if one manipulation affects the first variable and not the second, the other manipulation affects the second variable and not the first (Teuber 1955). This usually refers to two cognitive faculties, that are believed to be linked in some way, where each can receive damage whilst the other remains intact and functioning. Double dissociations partition human behaviour into component effects (Van Orden 2001) suggesting that the two things exist independently of one another. Dual process learning is a model involving both implicit and explicit learning, whereby there is a two-level interaction occurring where each interacts in different ways (Sun 2002). Often dual process theories are vague and without specific alignment to the processes that are described (Evans & Stanovich 2013) however this opens up these theories to use outside of the specific psychological learning that they model.

Not all dual process theories are the same, and they do not necessarily relate to the same systems (Evans & Stanovich 2013). By using parts of dual process cognitive theories to develop a relatable model for self efficacy and the placebo effect it may be possible to analyse both mechanisms as occurring independently of one another but also with an impact on the reciprocal result. The placebo effect can occur with and without both expectancy and conditioning (Stewart-Williams 2004), and in a similar fashion self efficacy can be present but is not necessarily a requirement. Implicit and explicit psychobiological mechanisms are inextricably associated with the therapeutic encounter, and are important factors for mediating placebo responses (Meissner 2011), however determining the specific impact of self efficacy to the placebo effect it may be beneficial to analyse self efficacy and placebo as both double dissociative and dual processing. Merging these concepts together could produce an increased understanding to the specific mechanisms that occur when an individual gains a performance benefit from the use of a placebo.


Bandura, A. (1982). Self-efficacy mechanism in human agency. American Psychologist, 37, 122-147

Beedie, C. J. (2007). Placebo effects in competitive sport: Qualitative data. J. Sports Sci & Med, 6, 21-28.

Benedetti, F., Mayberg, H.S., Wager, T.D., Stohler, C.S. & Zubieta, J.K. (2005) Neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo effect. The Journal of Neuroscience, 25(45):10390 –10402

Evans, J.B.T. & Stanovich, K.E. (2013) Dual-process theories of higher cognition: advancing the debate. Perspectives on Psychological Science 8(3) 223–241

Kamper, S.J. & Williams, C.M., (2013) The placebo effect: powerful, powerless or redundant. Br J Sports Med Vol 47 No 1, 6-9

Meissner, K., Kohls, N. & Colloca, L. (2011) Introduction to placebo effects in medicine: mechanisms and clinical implications Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B  366, 1783–1789

Petrovic, P. & Ingvar, M. (2002) Imaging cognitive modulation of pain processing. Pain 95:1–5.

Sun, R. (2002). Duality of the mind: A bottom-up approach toward cognition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Sun, R. (2013). Dual-process theories and cognitive architectures. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA

Stewart-Williams, S. & Podd, J. (2004) The placebo effect: dissolving the expectancy versus conditioning debate Psychological Bulletin. 130(2), 324–340

Teuber, H. L. (1955). Physiological psychology. Annual Review of Psychology, 6, 267–296

Van Orden, G.V., Pennington, B.F. & Stone, G.O. (2001) What do double dissociations prove? Cognitive Science 25(1) 111-172

Wager, T.D. & Smith, E.E. (2003) Neuroimaging studies of working memory: a meta-analysis. Cognitive Affect of Behavioural Neuroscience 3:255–274.

Posted in Ella's blog posts

A placebo effect without deception

Author: Ella Ward, date published: 28/10/13

The problem of using placebo’s in sport arises when a coach’s desire to improve performance involves deception and compromises the coach-athlete relationship. A solution would be to demonstrate a placebos efficacy without deception (Benedetti et al., 2011). Recently, a study by Friedlander et al. (2010) supported the solution, concluding open-label placebos improved the symptoms in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Conversely, a study by Fitzpatrick et al. (2007) reported a decline in force production after disclosing the nature of the placebo intervention. Contrary to these two studies, the solution is sparsely investigated in the literature. Thus, a research proposal will be constructed to investigate a placebo intervention without deception. This will also provide coaches and sports scientists with a framework to optimise a placebo effect without deception.

The purpose of the proposed study is to determine whether Kinesio-tape improves circulation in the gastrocnemius muscle during cycling. The study design will be within-group. This is an improvement to Friedlander’s between-group design, where participants assigned no treatment may have been disappointed. This may have negatively influenced the results (Kaptchuk et al., 2011). Furthermore, the study will be unblinded. This is integral to its validity because it needs to reflect the circumstances where both the coach and athlete are agreeable to the placebo. However, unblinded studies have associated risks of bias (Chen et al., 2011; Kaptchuk et al., 2011).

For example, participants may change their behaviour during experimental research. This change is known as the Hawthorne Effect (Campbell et al., 2009; Rowland, 1994). Despite being difficult to overcome in a laboratory environment, measures will be taken to prevent this. For example, the cycle ergometer wattage and revolutions per minute would be maintained at constant values throughout the testing to prevent participants exercising at a higher work rate.

Another limitation is response bias, which occurs through self-reporting methods (Kaptchuk et al., 2011). An example of this occurs when participant’s who are overweight tend to over-estimate duration and intensity of exercise to “please” the experimenters (Acra et al., 1999). This bias was a limitation of Friedlander’s study because only subjective measures were collected. This inhibited researchers from discriminating between response bias or the placebo physiologically improving the condition (Kaptchuk et al., 2010). Therefore, this study will collect objective measures (Kaptchuk et al., 2011). For example, circulation will be measured by exercise physiologists using a non-invasive Laser Doppler. This method has been used in previous studies investigating KT and circulation (Docherty et al., 2012; Hashimoto & Kase, 1998). Differences between responders and non-responders will be investigated by sports psychologists. This would consist of a pre-participation questionnaire, examining the individual’s expectations, beliefs and personality traits such as Five Factor Model (McCrae & John, 1992). Each participants subjective results would be compared to their objective results.

Lastly, an unblinded study may heighten a placebo effect through the expectancy effect (Kaptchuk et al., 2011). Expectancy plays an important role in the efficacy of placebos (Benedetti et al., 2005). Friedlander’s study contained this bias due to its persuasive debriefing, which inadvertently communicated to the participants the expected results (Campbell et al., 2009; Kaptchuk et al., 2010). It is important to note that discussion of the pros and cons of treatment and shared decision making is an integral component in the coach-athlete relationship (Miller et al., 2012). Therefore, the debriefing rationale will not induce expectation, but will present multiple findings from clinical studies. For example: “one study concluded KT did not affect circulation, however another study concluded KT improved circulation when combined with low-strength exercises” (Docherty et al., 2012; Hashimoto & Kase, 1998).

The results from this study would further advance the knowledge in this field. It would also have the potential to improve performance and provide an alternate route for coaches to pursue which does not compromise the coach-athlete relationship. However overall, there is no empirical evidence supporting the efficacy of placebo’s without deception (Fitzpatrick et al., 2007). Thus, the solution would require large amounts of clinical research to match the literature that has been previously published on placebos, which may be unrealistic. The solution may also have implications to previous research, which may become invalid and meaningless when compared to overt placebo trials. The question still exists that if the research yields significant findings, will sports scientists and coaches use the results? Or will the traditional method of deception still be used due to its simplistic nature?


Reference list:

Acra, S. A., Buchowski, M. S., Chen, K. Y., Sun, M., & Townsend, K. M. (1999). Energy expenditure determined by self-reported physical activity is related to body fatness. Obes Res, 7(1), 23-33.

Benedetti, F., Carlino, E., & Pollo, A. (2011). Placebo mechanisms across different conditions: from the clinical setting to physical performance. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 366(1572), 1790-1798.

Benedetti, F., Mayberg, H. S., Wager, T. D., Stohler, C. S., & Zubieta, J.-K. (2005). Neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo effect. The Journal of Neuroscience, 25(45), 10390-10402.

Campbell, Cumming, Gerrig, Wilkes, & Zimbardo. (2009). Psychology and Life (Australian ed.). Australia: Pearson Education Australia.

Chen, M. H., Horsley, T., Moher, D., Morissette, K., & Tricco, A. C. (2011). Blinded versus unblinded assessments of risk of bias in studies included in a systematic review. Cochrane Database Systemic Review, 7(9).

Docherty, C. L., Kroskie, R. M., & Stedge, H. L. (2012). Kinesio Taping and the circulation and endurance ratio of the gastrocnemius muscle. Journal of Athletic Training, 47(6), 635-642.

Fitzpatrick, J., Kalasountas, V., & Reed, J. (2007). The effect of placebo-induced changes in expectancies on maximal force production in college students. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 19(1), 116-124.

Hashimoto, T., & Kase, K. (1998). Changes in the volume of the peripheral blood flow by using Kinesio Taping®. Available at

Kaptchuk, T. J., Friedlander, E., Kelley, J. M., & Kirsch, I. (2010). Placebos without deception: a randomized controlled trial in irritable bowel syndrome. PLoS One, 5(12), e15591.

Kaptchuk, T. J., Hrobjartsson, A., & Miller, F. G. (2011). Placebo effect studies are susceptible to response bias and to other types of biases. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 64(11), 1223-1229.

McCrae, R. R., & John, O. P. (1992). An introduction to the five-factor model and its applications. Journal of personality, 60(2), 175-215.

Miller, F. G., Brody, H., & Colloca, L. (2012). The placebo phenomenon: implications for the ethics of shared decision-making. Journal of General Internal Medicine(6), 739-742.

Rowland, T. W. (1994). On exercise physiology and the psyche. Pediatric Exercise Science, 6(2), 111-113.

Posted in Uncategorized

Psychological Responses to Massage seen in Infants; Are Infants our best Indicators to Combat Worldwide Problems?

Psychological Responses to Massage seen in Infants; Are Infants our best Indicators to Combat Worldwide Problems?

Building on from my previous blog post about the placebo regarding general techniques massage, I have decided to look at some less known, positive effects of massage, how they affect the mind and body, and whether they can be classified as true placebo effects. For instance; light massage versus moderate massage in infant children, and how it affects their growth and development after birth. Infants are ideal to carry studies out when testing for placebo. Their mind is not yet fully developed, thus they don’t normally elicit placebo responses (Harris et al, 2013).

Harris’s study looked at whether giving dextrose gel was an effective way to treat hypoglycaemic infants (infants with very low blood sugar levels), to prevent brain damage later in life. The study( 0-1 month of life) concluded that it was a viable method of decreasing the chance of hypoglycaemia, but what was most interesting about this study was that the control group, the infants who got placebo gel, did not illicit a response and were at higher risk of being hypoglycaemic later in life- no placebo was observed. Similar responses in infants was also observed by Ang et al, 2012, thus the idea that infants, who are still yet to fully develop their brain, will not illicit a placebo is likely a viable one, as opposed to older people (children and adults) where a placebo response is much more likely (Weeks et al, 2011).

The first month of infant development is crucial as the mind and body are both growing rapidly. A study carried out by Field (2004) was to compare the growth rates of infants (0-1 month) that received light pressure massage versus moderate pressure massage. The trial, (n=96), was made up of a range of cultures; with 57% Hispanic, 23% African American, 5% Caucasian, and 15% other. The results clearly showed that infants who received moderate pressure massage as opposed to light pressure massage had improved weight and length after one month, likely due to increased efficiency of food absorption (Field et al, 2004, Field et al, 2007). Having already considered the idea that infants show minimal to nil signs of placebo, and any response that is seen must actually be happening and helping is intriguing in this study. As well as positive physiological outcomes from the study positive results were seen happening on the mind.

A test that was implemented during the study, called The Brazelton Scale, is a multi area assessment used to determine a newborn’s development in areas including orientation, habituation and depression (Brazelton Institute). The results of the Field’s study indicated a significant difference (p= 0.001) when it came to the different types of massage in several areas (orientation and habituation) as well a lower depression score (p= 0.2). These changes on the mind and how the infant was acting could not be described as placebo; infants of this age simply do not elicit such strong responses to these tests.

If there is such a strong case shown in infants, where placebo has minimal to nil effects; that massage can positively impact both physiological and psychological changes why is there no proof of this in the adult population? Could malnourished children benefit from massage? Could children who find it difficult to learn also benefit from massage therapy? Could even depressed people who are struggling in life show some sort of positive outcome associated with massage?

It is hard to tell whether anything witnessed in the infancy stage of life can be reflected in later years but it is worth a try. What is the worst that can happen? Further research is a must.

I hope you have gained a better understanding about the effects of massage on infants and maybe even ponder a question about what positive effects massage could have on your life?

Thanks for reading


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Ang, J, Y,. Lua, J, L,. Mathur, A,. Thomas, R,. Asmar, B, I,. Savasan, S,. Buck, S,. Long, M & Shankaran, S. 2012. A Randomised Placebo-Controlled Trial of Massage Therapy on the Immune System of Preturn Infants. Official Journal of American Academy of Paediatrics. 130, (6).

Brazelton Institute, Updated 2012, Multiple Authors

Field, T,. Hernandez-Reif, M,. Diego, M,. Feijo, L,. Vera, Y & Gil, K,. 2004. Massage Therapy by Parents Improves early growth and Development. University of Miami Department of Paediatrics, School of Medicine.


Field, T,. Diego, M & Hernandez-Reif, M,. 2007. Massage Therapy Research. University of Miami Department of Paediatrics, School of Medicine.

Harris, D, L,. Weston, P, J,. Signal, M,. Chase, G, J & Harding, J, E,. 2013. Dextrose gel for neonatal hypoglycaemia (the Sugar Babies); a randomised, double-blind, Placebo-controlled trial. Newborn Intensive care unit Hamilton, New Zealand, Pediactrics.

Weeks, R, E & Newman, E,. 2011. Behavioural factors in the placebo response. Neurological Science, The official Journal of the Italian Neurological Society. Springer. (32), 1.