FOAM ROLLING SCIENCE
If you WANT TO learN more about the scientific research that backs the effectiveness of foam rolling, look no further!
We've gathered some great resources that have bettered our understanding of the foam rolling practice
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FOAM ROLLING RESEARCH
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Fleckenstein, J., Wilke, J., Vogt, L., & Banzer, W. (2017). Journal of sports science & medicine, 16(4), 474.
Preventive and regenerative foam rolling are equally effective in reducing fatigue-related impairments of muscle function following exercise.
1) “A single bout of foam rolling reduces neuromuscular exhaustion with reference to maximal force production. Regenerative rather than preventive foam rolling seems sufficient to prevent further fatigue”
2) Using a foam roller one time on a certain area will reduce that area’s exhaustion when testing for a maximal (end range) force production. Post-exercise foam rolling seems to be more effective in preventing fatigue and increasing recovery.
Objectives of the study were to compare the effects of a single bout of preventive or regenerative foam rolling (FR) on exercise-induced neuromuscular exhaustion. Single-centre randomised-controlled study was designed. Forty-five healthy adults (22 female; 25±2 yrs) were allocated to three groups: 1) FR of the lower limb muscles prior to induction of fatigue, 2) FR after induction of fatigue, 3) no-treatment control. Neuromuscular exhaustion was provoked using a standardized and validated functional agility short-term fatigue protocol. Main outcome measure was the maximal isometric voluntary force of the knee extensors (MIVF). Secondary outcomes included pain and reactive strength (RSI). Preventive (-16%) and regenerative FR (-12%) resulted in a decreased loss in MIVF compared to control (-21%; p < 0.001) five minutes after exhaustion. Post-hoc tests indicated a large-magnitude, non-significant trend towards regenerative foam rolling to best restore strength (Cohen’s d > 0.8, p < 0.1). Differences over time (p < 0.001) between groups regarding pain and RSI did not turn out to be clinically meaningful. A single bout of foam rolling reduces neuromuscular exhaustion with reference to maximal force production. Regenerative rather than preventive foam rolling seems sufficient to prevent further fatigue.
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Cheatham, S. W., & Stull, K. R. (2018). International Journal Of Sports Physical Therapy, 13(3), 474-482.
Comparison of Three Different Density Type Foam Rollers on Knee Range of Motion and Pressure Pain Threshold: A Randomized Control Trial.
1) “Within group comparison for ROM revealed an 8° (p< 0.001) post-intervention increase for the medium and hard density rollers and a 7° (p< 0.001) increase for the soft density roller”
2) Foam rolling can increase range of motion in the knee joint by up to 8°
Foam rolling is a popular form of roller massage. To date, no studies have examined the therapeutic effects of different density type rollers. Understanding the different densities may provide clinicians with the knowledge to accurately prescribe a particular foam roller and safely progress the client.
The purpose of this study was to compare the immediate effects of three different density type foam rollers on prone passive knee flexion range of motion (ROM) and pressure pain thresholds (PPT) of the quadriceps musculature.
Pretest, posttest randomized controlled trial.
Thirty-six recreationally active adults were randomly allocated to one of three groups: soft density, medium density, and hard density foam roller. The intervention lasted a total of two minutes. Outcome measures included prone passive knee flexion ROM and PPT. Statistical analysis included parametric and non-parametric tests to measure changes among groups.
Between group comparisons revealed no statistically significant differences between all three rollers for knee ROM (p=.78) and PPT (p=.37). Within group comparison for ROM revealed an 88 (p < 0.001) post-intervention increase for the medium and hard density rollers and a 78 (p < 0.001) increase for the soft density roller. For PPT, there was a post-intervention increase of 180 kPa (p < 0.001) for the medium density roller, 175 kPa (p < 0.001) for the soft density roller, and 151 kPa (p < 0.001) for the hard density roller.
All three roller densities produced similar post-intervention effects on knee ROM and PPT. These observed changes may be due to a local mechanical and global neurophysiological response from the pressure applied by the roller. The client's pain perception may have an influence on treatment and preference for a specific foam roller. Clinicians may want to consider such factors when prescribing foam rolling as an intervention.
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Kalichman, L., & Ben David, C. (2017). Journal Of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 21(2), 446-451.
Effect of self-myofascial release on myofascial pain, muscle flexibility, and strength: A narrative review.
1) “Researchers observed a significant increase in the joint range of motion after using the SMFR technique and no decrease in muscle force or changes in performance after treatment with SMFR (Self MyoFascial Release)”
Numerous techniques have been employed to treat myofascial pain syndrome. Self-myofascial release (SMFR) is a relatively new technique of soft tissue mobilization. The simplicity and portability of the SMFR tools allow it to be easily implemented in any type of fitness or rehabilitation program. It is an active method and can be used by anyone at home or at the workplace.
To review the current methods of SMFR, their mechanisms, and efficacy in treating myofascial pain, improving muscle flexibility and strength.
PubMed, Google Scholar, and PEDro databases were searched without search limitations from inception until July 2016 for terms relating to SMFR.
Results and conclusions
During the past decade, therapists and fitness professionals have implemented SMFR mainly via foam rolling as a recovery or maintenance tool. Researchers observed a significant increase in the joint range of motion after using the SMFR technique and no decrease in muscle force or changes in performance after treatment with SMFR. SMFR has been widely used by health-care professionals in treating myofascial pain. However, we found no clinical trials which evaluated the influence of SMFR on myofascial pain. There is an acute need for these trials to evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of SMFR in the treatment of the myofascial syndrome.
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MACDONALD, G. Z., BUTTON, D. C., DRINKWATER, E. J., & GEORGE BEHM, D. (2014). Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, 46(1), 131-142.
Foam Rolling as a Recovery Tool after an Intense Bout of Physical Activity.
1) “The most important findings of the present study were that FR was beneficial in attenuating muscle soreness while improving vertical jump height, muscle activation, and passive and dynamic ROM in comparison with control”
Foam Rolling as a Recovery Tool after an Intense Bout of Physical Activity. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 131–142, 2014. Purpose: The objective of this study is to understand the effectiveness of foam rolling (FR) as a recovery tool after exercise-induced muscle damage, analyzing thigh girth, muscle soreness, range of motion (ROM), evoked and voluntary contractile properties, vertical jump, perceived pain while FR, and force placed on the foam roller.
Methods: Twenty male subjects (23 yr of strength training experience) were randomly assigned into the control (n = 10) or FR (n = 10) group. All the subjects followed the same testing protocol. The subjects participated in five testing sessions: 1) orientation and one-repetition maximum back squat, 2) pretest measurements, 10 x 10 squat protocol, and POST-0 (posttest 0) measurements, along with measurements at 3) POST-24, 4) POST-48, and 5) POST-72. The only between-group difference was that the FR group performed a 20-min FR exercise protocol at the end of each testing session (POST-0, POST-24, and POST-48).
Results: FR substantially reduced muscle soreness at all time points while substantially improving ROM. FR negatively affected evoked contractile properties with the exception of half relaxation time and electromechanical delay (EMD), with FR substantially improving EMD. Voluntary contractile properties showed no substantial between-group differences for all measurements besides voluntary muscle activation and vertical jump, with FR substantially improving muscle activation at all time points and vertical jump at POST-48. When performing the five FR exercises, measurements of the subjects’ force placed on the foam roller and perceived pain while FR ranged between 26 and 46 kg (32%–55% body weight) and 2.5 and 7.5 points, respectively.
Conclusion: The most important findings of the present study were that FR was beneficial in attenuating muscle soreness while improving vertical jump height, muscle activation, and passive and dynamic ROM in comparison with control. FR negatively affected several evoked contractile properties of the muscle, except for half relaxation time and EMD, indicating that FR benefits are primarily accrued through neural responses and connective tissue
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Kalén, A., Pérez-Ferreirós, A., Barcala-Furelos, R., Fernández-Méndez, M., Padrón-Cabo, A., Prieto, J. A., & ... Abelairas-Gómez, C. (2017). American Journal Of Emergency Medicine, 35(12), 1887-1891.
How can lifeguards recover better? A cross-over study comparing resting, running, and foam rolling.
1) “Foam rolling is an effective method of increasing the rate of blood lactate clearance”
The aim of this study is to compare the effectiveness of active recovery in form of running or foam rolling on clearing blood lactate compared to remain sitting after a water rescue.
A quasi experimental cross-over design was used to test the effectiveness of two active recovery methods: foam rolling (FR) and running (RR), compared with passive recovery (PR) on the blood lactate clearance after performing a water rescue. Twelve lifeguards from Marín (Pontevedra) completed the study. The participants performed a 100-meter water rescue and a 25-minute recovery protocol.
The post recovery lactate levels were significantly lower for foam rolling (4.4 ± 1.5 mmol/l, P = 0.005, d = 0.94) and running (4.9 ± 2.3 mmol/l, P = 0.027, d = 1.21) compared with resting (7.2 ± 2.5 mmol/l); there was no significant difference between foam rolling and running (P = 1.000).
We found that surf lifesavers clear out blood lactate more efficient when performing an active recovery protocol. Foam rolling is an effective method of increasing the rate of blood lactate clearance. These two recovery methods are also adequate for surf lifeguards as they do not interfere with the surveillance aspect of their job.
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BEHARA, B., & JACOBSON, B. H. (2017). (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins), 31(4), 888-892.
Acute Effects Of Deep Tissue Foam Rolling And Dynamic Stretching On Muscular Strength, Power, And Flexibility In Division I Linemen. Journal Of Strength & Conditioning Research
1) “hip flexibility was statistically significant when tested after both dynamic stretching and foam rolling”
A recent strategy to increase sports performance is a self-massage technique called myofascial release using foam rollers. Myofascial restrictions are believed to be brought on by injuries, muscle imbalances, overrecruitment, and/or inflammation, all of which can decrease sports performance. The purpose of this study was to compare the acute effects of a single-bout of lower extremity self-myofascial release using a custom deep tissue roller (DTR) and a dynamic stretch protocol. Subjects consisted of NCAA Division 1 offensive linemen (n = 14) at a Midwestern university. All players were briefed on the objectives of the study and subsequently signed an approved IRB consent document. A randomized crossover design was used to assess each dependent variable (vertical jump [VJ] power and velocity, knee isometric torque, and hip range of motion was assessed before and after: [a] no treatment, [b] deep tissue foam rolling, and [c] dynamic stretching). Results of repeated-measures analysis of variance yielded no pretest to posttest significant differences (p > 0.05) among the groups for VJ peak power (p = 0.45), VJ average power (p = 0.16), VJ peak velocity (p = 0.25), VJ average velocity (p = 0.23), peak knee extension torque (p = 0.63), average knee extension torque (p = 0.11), peak knee flexion torque (p = 0.63), or average knee flexion torque (p = 0.22). However, hip flexibility was statistically significant when tested after both dynamic stretching and foam rolling (p = 0.0001). Although no changes in strength or power was evident, increased flexibility after DTR may be used interchangeably with traditional stretching exercises.
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Kelly, S., & Beardsley, C. (2016). International Journal Of Sports Physical Therapy, 11(4), 544-551.
Specific And Cross-Over Effects Of Foam Rolling On Ankle Dorsiflexion Range Of Motion.
1) “a significant within-group effect (p < 0.05) in the FR group was seen between baseline and all post-treatment time-points (0, 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes). Significant within-group effects (p< 0.05) were also seen in the ipsilateral leg between baseline and at all post-treatment time-points, and in the contralateral leg up to 10 minutes post-treatment, indicating the presence of a cross-over effect”
2) There was a significant increase in ankle range of motion after a bout of foam rolling when tested at 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20 minutes after the session. There was also some improvements in the opposite leg as well.
Flexibility is an important physical quality. Self-myofascial release (SMFR) methods such as foam rolling (FR) increase flexibility acutely but how long such increases in range of motion (ROM) last is unclear. Static stretching (SS) also increases flexibility acutely and produces a cross-over effect to contralateral limbs. FR may also produce a cross-over effect to contralateral limbs but this has not yet been identified.
To explore the potential cross-over effect of SMFR by investigating the effects of a FR treatment on the ipsilateral limb of 3 bouts of 30 seconds on changes in ipsilateral and contralateral ankle DF ROM and to assess the time-course of those effects up to 20 minutes post-treatment.
A within- and between-subject design was carried out in a convenience sample of 26 subjects, allocated into FR (n=13) and control (CON, n=13) groups. Ankle DF ROM was recorded at baseline with the in-line weight-bearing lunge test for both ipsilateral and contralateral legs and at 0, 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes following either a two-minute seated rest (CON) or 3 3 30 seconds of FR of the plantar flexors of the dominant leg (FR). Repeated measures ANOVA was used to examine differences in ankle DF ROM.
No significant between-group effect was seen following the intervention. However, a significant within-group effect (p<0.05) in the FR group was seen between baseline and all post-treatment time-points (0, 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes). Significant within-group effects (p<0.05) were also seen in the ipsilateral leg between baseline and at all post-treatment time-points, and in the contralateral leg up to 10 minutes post-treatment, indicating the presence of a cross-over effect.
FR improves ankle DF ROM for at least 20 minutes in the ipsilateral limb and up to 10 minutes in the contralateral limb, indicating that FR produces a cross-over effect into the contralateral limb. The mechanism producing these cross-over effects is unclear but may involve increased stretch tolerance, as observed following SS.
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