Effects of self-myofascial release: A systematic review

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2015 Oct;19(4):747-58. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2015.08.007. Epub 2015 Aug 28.


Background: Self-myofascial release (SMFR) is a type of myofascial release performed by the individual themselves rather than by a clinician, typically using a tool.

Objectives: To review the literature regarding studies exploring acute and chronic clinical effects of SMFR.

Methods: PubMed and Google Scholar databases were searched during February 2015 for studies containing words related to the topic of SMFR.

Results: Acutely, SMFR seems to increase flexibility and reduce muscle soreness but does not impede athletic performance. It may lead to improved arterial function, improved vascular endothelial function, and increased parasympathetic nervous system activity acutely, which could be useful in recovery. There is conflicting evidence whether SMFR can improve flexibility long-term.

Conclusion: SMFR appears to have a range of potentially valuable effects for both athletes and the general population, including increasing flexibility and enhancing recovery.

Keywords: Athletic performance; Delayed onset muscle soreness; Flexibility; Foam rolling.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Myalgia / rehabilitation*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Therapy, Soft Tissue / instrumentation
  • Therapy, Soft Tissue / methods*
  • Vascular Stiffness / physiology