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Randomized Controlled Trial
. 2015 Jan;50(1):5-13.
doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-50.1.01. Epub 2014 Nov 21.

Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measures

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Free PMC article
Randomized Controlled Trial

Foam Rolling for Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness and Recovery of Dynamic Performance Measures

Gregory E P Pearcey et al. J Athl Train. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Context: After an intense bout of exercise, foam rolling is thought to alleviate muscle fatigue and soreness (ie, delayed-onset muscle soreness [DOMS]) and improve muscular performance. Potentially, foam rolling may be an effective therapeutic modality to reduce DOMS while enhancing the recovery of muscular performance.

Objective: To examine the effects of foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense exercise protocol through assessment of pressure-pain threshold, sprint time, change-of-direction speed, power, and dynamic strength-endurance.

Design: Controlled laboratory study.

Setting: University laboratory.

Patients or other participants: A total of 8 healthy, physically active males (age = 22.1 ± 2.5 years, height = 177.0 ± 7.5 cm, mass = 88.4 ± 11.4 kg) participated.

Intervention(s): Participants performed 2 conditions, separated by 4 weeks, involving 10 sets of 10 repetitions of back squats at 60% of their 1-repetition maximum, followed by either no foam rolling or 20 minutes of foam rolling immediately, 24, and 48 hours postexercise.

Main outcome measure(s): Pressure-pain threshold, sprint speed (30-m sprint time), power (broad-jump distance), change-of-direction speed (T-test), and dynamic strength-endurance.

Results: Foam rolling substantially improved quadriceps muscle tenderness by a moderate to large amount in the days after fatigue (Cohen d range, 0.59 to 0.84). Substantial effects ranged from small to large in sprint time (Cohen d range, 0.68 to 0.77), power (Cohen d range, 0.48 to 0.87), and dynamic strength-endurance (Cohen d = 0.54).

Conclusions: Foam rolling effectively reduced DOMS and associated decrements in most dynamic performance measures.

Keywords: athletic performance; magnitude-based inference; massage; pain.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
The experimental procedure. Measurements before and after the delayed-onset muscle soreness protocol consisted of pressure-pain threshold, sprint speed (30-m sprint time), power (broad-jump distance), change-of-direction speed, and dynamic strength-endurance (maximal squat repetitions with a 70% of 1-repetition maximum load).
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
A participant demonstrates the depth achieved during all back squats. We stacked 5-cm spacers so that when the participants were at the end phase of the eccentric portion of the squat repetition, their femurs were parallel to the floor. Participants were required to touch the top of the stack during each squat repetition.
Figure 3.
Figure 3.
A participant demonstrates the 5 muscle groups foam rolled and the technique used for each muscle group. Foam rolling consisted of 45 seconds of rolling for each muscle in the left lower extremity, 15 seconds of rest, 45 seconds on the right lower extremity, and 15 seconds of rest for all muscles in the following order: A, quadriceps, B, adductors, C, hamstrings, D, iliotibial band, and E, gluteals. Total foam-rolling time was 20 minutes (15 minutes of rolling and 5 minutes of rest).
Figure 4.
Figure 4.
Magnitude-based inferences demonstrating the effect of foam rolling on A, muscle tenderness, B, sprint speed (30-m sprint time), C, power (broad-jump distance), and D, dynamic strength-endurance (maximal squat repetitions with a 70% of 1-repetition maximum load) after the delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) protocol. Points represent the effect size (Cohen d) describing the interaction effect of foam rolling to control between each time point and pre-DOMS protocol. Error bars represent 95% confidence limits for the mean effect. A point in the shaded region represents a clinically trivial effect.

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