INTERDISCIPLINARY FASCIA THERAPY (IFT METHOD) FOR CHRONIC LOW BACK PAIN:
AN EXAMINATION OF THERAPY PROCESS AND OUTCOME AT 18 MONTHS
Gordon C.-M.1,2,3, Schleip R.2, Vagedes J.3, Birbaumer N.4, Montoya P.5, Andrasik F.6
1Center for Integrative Therapy, Stuttgart, Germany;
2Fascia Research Group, Division of Neurophysiology, University of Ulm, Germany;
3ARCIM Institute, Filderklinik, Bonlanden, Germany;
4Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Tübingen, Germany;
5Research Institute on Health Sciences, University of Balearic Islands, Palma, Spain;
6Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, USA
1Christopher-Marc Gordon, phone: 00497112366321, email: email@example.com
The interdisciplinary fascia therapy method (IFT Method) is a newly developed treatment for chronic low
back pain. This treatment combines instrument assisted, manual based fascia therapy with
diaphragmatic stimulation for the purpose of increasing vagal tone of the parasympathic nervous system
through a specialized paced breathing technique (heart rate variability— HRV training).
The aims of this study were to assess the effectiveness of IFT, compare its outcome to that obtained by
the more common classic massage (CM), and to begin to understand some of the factors mediating IFT
(herein referred to as therapy process).
Materials and Methods
Participants (N=50) were randomly assigned to one of two groups: CM (N=18), IFT (N=19); we
subsequently recruited a non-intervention control group for comparison purposes (N=13). Each patient
received six 30-minute standardized therapy sessions, scheduled bi-weekly. The IFT group received
manual and tool assisted myofascial techniques as well as HRV training; the CM group received
classical massage and relaxation training. The Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), Pain Disability Index (PDI),
and spine range of movement (ROM) with the Schober and Ott test served as the primary measures of
outcome. Expectations for improvement (Ferts-Placebo questionnaire), pain pressure threshold (PPT)
on lumbar tissues and thumbnails using the pain pressure algometer, and the biomechanical variables
of stiffness and elasticity measured by the MyotonPro provided measures of therapy process. Statistical
analyses included the paired t-test, Wilcoxon signed rank test, Cohen’s d-test, and ANOVAs. The study
was undertaken in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.
The IFT intervention was significantly more effective than CM (p<0.05) and the non-intervention in
improving pain and life quality, both at 3 and 18 months following treatment. ROM with the Schober test
and HRV coherence baseline testing in the IFT group showed significant improvement (p<0.05) both pre
to post 3 months. Reduction of muscle stiffness and gain in elasticity were improved pre to post 6 weeks
intervention in the IFT group. Cohen’s d revealed medium to large effect sizes for all primary measures
of outcome and also for all measures of the therapy process.
The IFT Method appears to be an effective intervention for patients with non-specific low back, yielding
improvements that endured for 1.5 years. Massage therapy revealed a significant increase for life
quality but no pain reduction post 3 months of intervention. However, further research is warranted to
better understand the physiological basis and clinical applications of this promising technique, IFT.
Instrument Assisted Fascia Therapy; Chronic Low Back Pain; Myofascial Trigger Point Release; HRV
Training; Vagal tone stimulation.
 Gordon CM, Schleip R, Vagedes J, Riquelme I, Birbaumer N, Andrasik F, Montoya P. Does Myofascial Pain Sensitization
Correlate with Chronic Low Back Pain? A RCT, Myometer Study with a 3 and 18 Month Follow Up. Fascia Research IV,
Washington DC, 11/2015, 252.
 Gordon CM, Lindner SM, Birbaumer N, Montoya P, Andrasik F. Interdisciplinary Fascia Therapy (IFT) in Chronic Low Back
Pain. An Effectivity-Outcome Study with Outpatients. Fascia Research IV, Washington DC, 11/2015, 253. / Prospective
submission for 9th Interdisciplinary World Congress on Low Back and Pelvic Girdle Pain 2016.
 Gordon CM, Birbaumer N, Andrasik F. Interdisciplinary fascia therapy (IFT method) reduces chronic low back pain: A pilot
study for a new myofascial approach. Prospective submission for 9th Interdisciplinary World Congress on Low Back and Pelvic
Girdle Pain 2016.