Fibroblast responses to variation in soft tissue mobilization pressure

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 Apr;31(4):531-5. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199904000-00006.


Augmented soft tissue mobilization therapy (ASTM), a newly developed massage therapy, has been successfully used in the treatment of chronic tendinitis patients. We theorized that the ASTM technique promotes healing through a controlled application of microtrauma.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine morphologic changes in the rat Achilles tendon after enzyme-induced injury with collagenase and subsequent pressure variations in ASTM therapy.

Methods: Thirty male white rats were randomly assigned to one of five groups with six animals per group: tendinitis (A), tendinitis plus light ASTM (B), tendinitis plus medium ASTM (C), tendinitis plus extreme ASTM (D), and control with surgery only (E). ASTM was performed for 3 min, for a total of six treatment sessions. The Achilles tendons of each group were harvested 1 wk after the last ASTM treatment. Fibroblast numbers were assessed by light microscopy. An electron microscope was used to observe enlargement of fibroblasts.

Results: Statistical analysis of the number of fibroblasts present indicated a significant difference (P<0.00) between group D and all other groups.

Conclusion: The morphological evidence indicated that the application of heavy pressure promoted the healing process to a greater degree than light or moderate pressure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / cytology
  • Achilles Tendon / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Division
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Fibroblasts*
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tendinopathy / pathology*
  • Tendinopathy / therapy