Effects of soft tissue mobilization (Rolfing pelvic lift) on parasympathetic tone in two age groups

Phys Ther. 1988 Mar;68(3):352-6. doi: 10.1093/ptj/68.3.352.


The effects of a soft tissue mobilization procedure, the Rolfing pelvic lift, on parasympathetic tone was studied in healthy adult men. Parasympathetic tone was assessed 1) by quantifying the amplitude of the respiratory sinus arrhythmia from the heart rate pattern and 2) by measuring heart rate. Heart rate patterns were assessed during the pelvic lift and during the durational touch and baseline control conditions. Two groups of healthy subjects were tested: Group 1 contained 20 subjects aged 26 to 41 years, and Group 2 contained 10 subjects aged 55 to 68 years. In Group 1, the pelvic lift elicited a somatovisceral-parasympathetic reflex characterized by a significant increase in parasympathetic tone relative to durational touch and baseline conditions. Group 2 did not exhibit a parasympathetic change during the pelvic lift. The results of this study contribute to our understanding of pelvic mobilization techniques and may help to explain why these techniques have been clinically successful in treating myofascial pain syndromes and other musculoskeletal dysfunctions characterized by reduced parasympathetic tone and excessive sympathetic activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Electrocardiography
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Orthopedic*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Tonus*
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Pelvis / innervation
  • Pelvis / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Reflex / physiology
  • Respiration