Clinician Versus Self-Administered Suboccipital Release on Superficial Backline Function


  • Kristin Ann Paloncy, Ed.D., ATC North Central College
  • Colin Wilhite, MS, ATC Missouri State University
  • Todd Daniel, PhD RStats Institute
  • Karen Rakowoski, PT, ATC Mercy Sports Medicine



Clinical-Related Outcomes; Manual Techniques; Myofascial Release


Context: Research into the effectiveness of occipital trigger point release has not clarified whether self-administered soft tissue techniques using other devices produce the same gains in mobility and function as when the clinician delivers the manual trigger point release.

Purpose: The purpose of the study is to see whether the same restoration to the superficial backline function that is achieved with a clinician-administered suboccipital release can also be obtained through a patient-administered method.  

Methods and Results: The study employed a randomized descriptive laboratory study in which 60 participants reported for a single data collection session, and were either put into a clinician or self-administered treatment group. There was a statistically significant main effect for the intervention, F(1,58) = 18.24, p < .001, eta = .239, indicating that both the clinician administered and the self-administered groups improved from pretest (Pre M = 4.74, SD = 7.96) to posttest (M = 6.79, SD = 7.58). But there was not a statistically significant interaction of time and group, F(1,58) = 18.24, p = .360, eta = .014, indicating that neither group outperformed the other. 

Interpretation: The significant clinical implication within the study was that there was no significant difference between gains in mobility between clinician administered and self-administered suboccipital release. The significant finding in this study is toe touch distance increased for all participants following a suboccipital release. 

Clinical Bottom Line: If a clinician properly instructs a patient on how to perform a suboccipital release, the intervention is just as successful as when the clinician performs the suboccipital release.  

Keywords/Key Phrases: Clinical-Related Outcomes; Manual Techniques; Myofascial Release







Clinical Outcomes Research