Background: Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a popular intervention used to enhance a client's myofascial mobility. Common tools include the foam roll and roller massager. Often these tools are used as part of a comprehensive program and are often recommended to the client to purchase and use at home. Currently, there are no systematic reviews that have appraised the effects of these tools on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance.
Purpose: The purpose of this review was to critically appraise the current evidence and answer the following questions: (1) Does self-myofascial release with a foam roll or roller-massager improve joint range of motion (ROM) without effecting muscle performance? (2) After an intense bout of exercise, does self-myofascial release with a foam roller or roller-massager enhance post exercise muscle recovery and reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS)? (3) Does self-myofascial release with a foam roll or roller-massager prior to activity affect muscle performance?
Methods: A search strategy was conducted, prior to April 2015, which included electronic databases and known journals. Included studies met the following criteria: 1) Peer reviewed, english language publications 2) Investigations that measured the effects of SMR using a foam roll or roller massager on joint ROM, acute muscle soreness, DOMS, and muscle performance 3) Investigations that compared an intervention program using a foam roll or roller massager to a control group 4) Investigations that compared two intervention programs using a foam roll or roller massager. The quality of manuscripts was assessed using the PEDro scale.
Results: A total of 14 articles met the inclusion criteria. SMR with a foam roll or roller massager appears to have short-term effects on increasing joint ROM without negatively affecting muscle performance and may help attenuate decrements in muscle performance and DOMS after intense exercise. Short bouts of SMR prior to exercise do not appear to effect muscle performance.
Conclusion: The current literature measuring the effects of SMR is still emerging. The results of this analysis suggests that foam rolling and roller massage may be effective interventions for enhancing joint ROM and pre and post exercise muscle performance. However, due to the heterogeneity of methods among studies, there currently is no consensus on the optimal SMR program.
Level of evidence: 2c.
Keywords: Massage; muscle; treatment.
Is self myofascial release an effective preexercise and recovery strategy? A literature review.Curr Sports Med Rep. 2015 May-Jun;14(3):200-8. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000148. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2015. PMID: 25968853 Review.
Roller-massager application to the hamstrings increases sit-and-reach range of motion within five to ten seconds without performance impairments.Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Jun;8(3):228-36. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2013. PMID: 23772339 Free PMC article.
DURATION OF MYOFASCIAL ROLLING FOR OPTIMAL RECOVERY, RANGE OF MOTION, AND PERFORMANCE: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2019 Dec;14(6):845-859. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2019. PMID: 31803517 Free PMC article.
Comparison of a foam rolling session with active joint motion and without joint motion: A randomized controlled trial.J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2018 Jul;22(3):707-712. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2018.01.011. Epub 2018 Feb 2. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2018. PMID: 30100300 Clinical Trial.
Self-Mobilization Using a Foam Roller Versus a Roller Massager: Which Is More Effective for Increasing Hamstrings Flexibility?J Sport Rehabil. 2017 Jan;26(1):94-100. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2015-0035. Epub 2016 Aug 24. J Sport Rehabil. 2017. PMID: 27632826 Review.
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