Shifts in pelvic inclination angle and parasympathetic tone produced by Rolfing soft tissue manipulation

Phys Ther. 1988 Sep;68(9):1364-70. doi: 10.1093/ptj/68.9.1364.


The effects of soft tissue manipulation (Rolfing method) were evaluated on young healthy men using two dependent variables: 1) angle of pelvic inclination and 2) parasympathetic activity. Pelvic inclination was assessed by determining the angle of standing pelvic tilt (SPT) with an inclinometer. Autonomic tone was assessed by a measure of cardiac vagal tone (amplitude of respiratory sinus arrhythmia) derived from monitoring heart rate. Thirty-two subjects, preselected for exhibiting an anteriorly tilted pelvis, were randomly assigned to either an Experimental Group (n = 16) that received a 45-minute Rolfing pelvic mobilization session or a Control Group (n = 16) that received a 45-minute control session without manipulation. Dependent variables were assessed before the 45-minute session, immediately after the session, and 24 hours later. Comparing pretest to posttest assessments, the Experimental Group demonstrated a significant decrease in SPT angle and a significant increase in vagal tone. The Control Group did not show significant pretest or posttest differences. The results provide theoretical support for the reported clinical uses of soft tissue pelvic manipulation for 1) certain types of low back dysfunction and 2) musculoskeletal disorders associated with autonomic stress.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Pelvic Bones / physiology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / methods*
  • Posture