Massage News - March 2017

Massage News - March 2017

The effect of self-myofascial release on thoracolumbar connective tissue

There seems to be an evidence-based myth nowadays that fascia cannot be altered. The "Massage and Fitness magazine" recently wrote on its Facebook page "there simply is no short term change in fascia to explain! It can’t respond to the pressures of massage therapy any more than bone can. " So, what does research really say? A study evaluated the effect of a self myofascial release technique called the MELT method on thoracolumbar fascia. See also our last issue's newsletter on a similar study. The MELT method is a hands-off, self-treatment that is said to alleviate chronic pain, release tension and restore mobility, utilizing specialized soft treatments balls, soft body roller and techniques mimicking manual therapy. The study's aim was to determine whether thickness of thoracolumbar connective tissue and biomechanical and viscoelastic properties of myofascial tissue in the low back region change in subjects with chronic LBP as a result of MELT. This study was designed using a quasi-experimental pre–post- design that analyzed data from subjects who performed MELT.

Using ultrasound imaging, the thickness of thoracolumbar connective tissue was analyzed in 22 subjects. A hand-held digital palpation device, called the MyotonPRO, was used to assess biomechanical properties such as stiffness, elasticity, tone and mechanical stress relaxation time of the thoracolumbar myofascial tissue. A forward bending test assessing flexibility and pain scale was added to see if MELT affected subjects with chronic LBP.

The results showed that, immediately after 30mins of MELT self-treatment, a significant decrease in connective tissue thickness and pain was observed in participants. The perimuscular zone connective tissue thickness decreases 27% after treatment. A similar result was also found after 4 weeks of MELT treatment. Significant increase in flexibility was also recorded.

Connective tissue is a viscoelastic material, i.e. it is composed of solid-fluid components, and it will change with applied stress via manual therapy.

The research was published in Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies

Myofascial Induction Effects on Neck-Shoulder Pain in Breast Cancer Survivors

A study from Spain published Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation December 2016 investigated the immediate effects of myofascial induction (MI, also called fascial unwinding), with placebo electrotherapy as a control, on perceived pain, cervical/shoulder range of motion (ROM), and mood state in breast cancer survivors (BCSs) with shoulder/arm morbidity. The study also examined the relationships between pain modifications and cervical/shoulder ROM on the side affected by breast cancer.

In a blind, placebo-controlled crossover study, at a Physical therapy laboratory, 21 breast cancer survivors who had a diagnosis of stage I-IIIA breast cancer and had completed adjuvant therapy (except hormonal treatment). During each session, the BCSs received either an MI (fascial unwinding) intervention focused on the upper limb area following the Pilat approach or placebo pulsed shortwave therapy (control group). Each session lasted 30 minutes, and an adequate washout period of 4 weeks between sessions was established.The results showed that the treatment has significant effect on VAS affected arm. The analysis also showed that treatment affected shoulder flexion, abduction , external rotation, and internal rotation. Significant interactions for affected cervical rotation and affected cervical lateral flexion were also found.

The authors concluded that a single MI session decreases pain intensity and improves neck-shoulder ROM to a greater degree than placebo electrotherapy for BCSs experiencing pain.

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