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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-017-1866-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Self-myofascial release (SMR) aims to mimic the effects of manual therapy and tackle dysfunctions of the skeletal muscle and connective tissue. It has been shown to induce improvements in flexibility, but the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood. In addition to neuronal mechanisms, improved flexibility may be driven by acute morphological adaptations, such as a reduction in passive tissue stiffness or improved movement between fascial layers. The aim of the intended study is to evaluate the acute effects of SMR on the passive tissue stiffness of the anterior thigh muscles and the sliding properties of the associated fasciae.
In a crossover study design, 16 participants will receive all of the following interventions in a permutated random order: (1) one session of 2 × 60 s of SMR at the anterior thigh, (2) one session of 2 × 60 s of passive static stretching of the anterior thigh and (3) no intervention. Passive tissue stiffness, connective tissue sliding, angle of first stretch sensation, as well as maximal active and passive knee flexion angle, will be evaluated before and directly after each intervention.
The results of the intended study will allow a better understanding of, and provide further evidence on, the local effects of SMR techniques and the underlying mechanisms for flexibility improvements.
ClinicalTrials.gov, identifier: NCT02919527. Registered on 27 September 2016.