Mechanical deformation of posterior thoracolumbar fascia after myofascial release

With the many documented biological and psychosocial benefits to massage therapy, we are uniquely suited to help those who suffer from low back pain. 

Research from Siegfried Mense suggest that inflammation (chronic and acute) of the thoracolumbar fascia has the ability to stimulate neurogenesis of free nerve endings and sensitize nerves.

Where I see benefits to a massage therapy fitting in with this model is that gentle manual stretch applied to this area may help flush out inflammatory byproducts, mitigating the further development of a noxious environment.

Fitting with this train of thought I wanted to highlight a recent cross-sectional study that looks at the effects of myofascial release on the thoracolumbar fascia. (See Below)


Participants (N = 10, aged 22.8 ± 2.0 years) performed a press-down to maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) in the prone position. Deformation of the PLF was measured using an ultrasonographic apparatus. Force output was simultaneously measured. The stiffness index and hysteresis index were then represented by the slope of the loading curve, and the percentage of the area within the loading-unloading curve. One-way ANCOVA was used to compare differences in the stiffness index or hysteresis index of the PLF before and after MR. Two-way repeated ANOVA was used to compare deformation of the PLF or force output after MR.

The primary findings included a decrease (before: 24.1 ± 8.3 vs. after: 18.9 ± 5.3 N/mm; mean difference, -5.2 ± 4.9 N/mm, p = 0.002 < 0.05) in the stiffness index of the PLF and a greater difference in deformation of the PLF between 50% and 100% MVC (before: Def50% = 6.5 ± 1.8 mm and Def100% = 9.8 ± 1.9 mm vs. after: Def50% = 6.4 ± 2.5 mm and Def100% = 10.2 ± 2.4 mm; p = 0.037 < 0.05, power = 58.5%).

After MR, stiffness of the PLF decreased in healthy men.

Wong, K., Chai, H., Chen, Y., Wang, C., Shau, Y., & Wang, S. (2016). Mechanical deformation of posterior thoracolumbar fascia after myofascial release in healthy men: A study of dynamic ultrasound. Manual Therapy.