The effects of thoracic manipulation on heart rate variability: a controlled crossover trial

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2006 Oct;29(8):603-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2006.08.011.


Objective: The objective of this study was to measure the effects of thoracic spinal manipulation on heart rate variability (HRV) in a cohort of healthy young adults.

Methods: A controlled crossover trial that was conducted on 28 healthy young adults (23 men and 5 women; age range, 18-45 years; mean age, 29 +/- 7 years) measured HRV before and after a sham procedure and a thoracic spinal manipulation.

Results: In healthy young adults, thoracic spinal manipulation was associated with changes in HRV that were not duplicated by the sham procedure. The ratio of the powers of the low-frequency and high-frequency components increased from 0.9562 +/- 0.9192 to 1.304 +/- 1.118 (P = .0030, Wilcoxon signed rank test). In subjects undergoing sham spinal manipulation, there was no statistically significant change in the low-frequency or the high-frequency component of the power spectrum; neither was there any in the ratio of the two regardless of whether the comparison was made using the paired t test or the Wilcoxon signed rank test.

Conclusion: High-velocity and low-amplitude manipulation of the thoracic spine appears to be able to influence autonomic output to the heart in ways that are not duplicated by a sham procedure or by other forms of somatic/physical therapies.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Spinal* / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Thoracic Vertebrae*