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.