Foam Rolling - is it just another fitness trend, or is there something more to be said for it? While there is still a need for additional research, studies have shown significant benefits of foam rolling in several areas.
Range of Motion
Foam rolling could be an effective way to increase range of motion, particularly when combined with static stretching. In an extensive study, hip range of motion significantly increased after foam rolling, however, hip extension measures returned to baseline values after one week. Greater improvements were seen by combining static stretching with foam rolling. Knee range of motion was also shown to significantly increase following foam rolling. The study differentiates between foam rolling and roller massage, with foam rolling being more effective. Foam rolling involves using your body weight to apply pressure to a roller, while roller massage indicates the use of a hand-held roller.
One of the foam rolling benefits with the most evidence is reduced pain perception. Researchers even theorize part of the reason foam rolling improves range of motion is due to increased resilience to discomfort. But does foam rolling actually decrease muscle soreness? A systematic review suggests showed that a single bout of foam rolling reduces neuromuscular exhaustion. This means that foam rolling directly affects the muscular structures, not only the brain’s perception.
Foam rolling is often suggested as a pre- or post-exercise routine. A study on the effects of foam rolling on athletic performance revealed that pre-rolling resulted in improvements to sprint performance and flexibility, while post-rolling slightly attenuated exercise-induced decreases in sprint and strength performance. The proposed physiological mechanisms of these results are increased blood flow and parasympathetic circulation, as well as inflammatory responses and associated trigger-point break down. The effects seemed to be dependent on time of the foam rolling intervention. The research indicates possible benefits of using foam rolling during sports activities, such as helping athletes to reduce fatigue at game breaks (like half-time in soccer) or substitutions (like in basketball or handball).
If you have additional questions about foam rolling, feel free to ask our providers! We also have a range of foam rollers available for sale in our office, and our providers are happy to demonstrate recommended exercises for you. Now get out there and get rollin’!