Original Research

Sequential alterations in the diameters of capillaries in rabbit skeletal muscle following deep transverse friction - a morphometric study

M. A. Gregory, M. N. Deane, M. Marsh
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 61, No 2 | a174 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v61i2.174 | © 2005 M. A. Gregory, M. N. Deane, M. Marsh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 January 2005 | Published: 09 January 2005

About the author(s)

M. A. Gregory, Emeritus Professor, Electron Microscopy Unit, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
M. N. Deane, Department of Physiotherapy, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
M. Marsh, Department of TeleHealth, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Objective: The precise mechanisms by which massage promotes repair in injured soft tissue are unknown. Various authorshave attributed the beneficial effects of massage to vasodilation and increased skin and muscle blood flow. The aim of this study was to determine whether deep transverse friction massage (DTF) causes capillary vasodilation in untraumatised skeletal muscle. Setting: Academic institution.Interventions: Twelve New Zealand white rabbits were anaesthetised and the left biceps femoris muscle received 10 minutes of DTF. Following treatment, wedge biopsies were taken from the musclewithin 10 minutes of treatment (R1 - 4), 24 hours (R5 - 8) and 6 days(R9 - 12) after treatment. To serve as controls, similar biopsies weretaken from the right biceps femoris of animals. The samples were fixed, dehydrated and embedded in epoxy resin.Transverse sections (1µm) of muscle were cut, stained with 1% aqueous alkaline toluidine blue and examined with a light microscope using a 40X objective. Images containing capillaries were captured using an image analyser with SIS software and the cross sectional diameters of at least 60 capillaries were measured from each specimen. Main Outcome Measures: Changes in capillary diameter. Results: The mean capillary diameters in control muscle averaged 4.76 µm. DTF caused a significant immediate increase of 17.3% in cross sectional area (p<0.001), which was not significantly increased by 10.0% after 24 hours (p>0.05). Six days after treatment the cross-sectional area of the treated muscle was 7.6% smaller than the controls. Conclusions: This confirms the contention that DTF stimulates muscle blood flow immediately after treatment and this may account for its beneficial effects in certain conditions.



massage; blood flow; capillary; light microscopy


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