Rat tendon morphologic and functional changes resulting from soft tissue mobilization

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1997 Mar;29(3):313-9. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199703000-00005.


Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization (ASTM) is a new non-invasive soft tissue mobilization technique which has been used successfully to treat a variety of musculoskeletal disorders. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of ASTM therapy on the morphological and functional characteristics of enzyme induced injured rat Achilles tendons. Four groups of five rats were allocated as follows: (A) control, (B) tendinitis, (C) tendinitis plus ASTM, and (D) ASTM alone. Collagenase injury was induced, and the surgical site was allowed to heal for 3 wk. ASTM was performed on the Achilles tendon of groups C and D for 3 min on postoperative days 21, 25, 29, and 33 for a total of four treatments. Gait data were gathered prior to each treatment. The Achilles tendons of each group were harvested 1 wk after the last treatment. Specimens were prepared for light and electron microscopy, and immunostaining for type I and type III collagen and fibronectin was performed. Light microscopy showed increased fibroblast proliferation in the tendinitis plus ASTM treatment group. Although healing in rats may not translate directly to healing in humans, the findings of this study suggest that ASTM may promote healing via increased fibroblast recruitment.

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / drug effects
  • Achilles Tendon / injuries*
  • Achilles Tendon / pathology
  • Achilles Tendon / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Division
  • Collagen / ultrastructure
  • Collagenases / administration & dosage
  • Collagenases / pharmacology
  • Coloring Agents
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Fibronectins / ultrastructure
  • Gait / physiology
  • Hindlimb / physiology
  • Joints / physiology
  • Male
  • Massage / instrumentation
  • Massage / methods*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tendinopathy / chemically induced
  • Tendinopathy / pathology
  • Tendinopathy / physiopathology
  • Tendinopathy / therapy*
  • Wound Healing


  • Coloring Agents
  • Fibronectins
  • Collagen
  • Collagenases