METHODS: Twenty healthy subjects were subjected to right rotational mobilization of different grades. The magnitude and frequency of mobilization loads were decided by an experienced manipulative therapist to be appropriate for each mobilization grade. Subjects were positioned on a specially constructed plinth capable of measuring forces and moments about 3 axes. The 3-dimensional movements of the lumbar spine were captured by an electromagnetic tracking device.
RESULTS: In the starting positions, the lumbar spines were found to be flexed, axially rotated to the right, and laterally bent to the left. As the mobilization grade increased, the spine was axially rotated further into the range. Rotational mobilization was found to induce oscillatory moments and movements of the spine in all 3 anatomical planes. The twisting moment and movement were generally accompanied by lateral bending moment and movement in the opposite direction. The mean amplitudes of the moment and movement oscillations were small and found to be largest for grade III mobilization.
CONCLUSION: The mechanical effects of rotational mobilization are not restricted to axial rotation of the spine as the name may have suggested. Rotational mobilization may be able to restore lost movements of the lumbar spine in any of the 3 planes. The method developed in this study showed good reliability and may be considered to assess treatment outcome and changes in spinal stiffness after therapy.
Click on the above link for the PubMed record for this article; full text by subscription. The abstract is reproduced here with the permission of the publisher.