An acute session of roller massage prolongs voluntary torque development and diminishes evoked pain

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017 Jan;117(1):109-117. doi: 10.1007/s00421-016-3503-y. Epub 2016 Nov 16.


Introduction: Roller massage (RM) has been reported to reduce pain associated with exercise-induced muscle soreness and increase range of motion without force or activation impairments. The objective was to examine RM effects on evoked pain and contractile properties.

Methods: Twelve men received three sets of 30-s RM at a perceived discomfort level of 7/10 on a visual analogue scale on the ipsilateral (IPSI-R) stimulated plantar flexors (PF), contralateral PF (CONTRA-R), Sham (light rolling on stimulated PF), or Control. At pre-test, post-test, and 5-min post-test, they received evoked maximal twitch, tetanus, and 70% maximal tetanic stimulation, and performed a maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC). Data analysis included perceived pain and contractile properties.

Results: The 70% tetanus illustrated significant 9-10% increases in pain perception with Sham and Control at post- and 5-min post-test, respectively (p < 0.01). There was no pain augmentation with IPSI-R and CONTRA-R. There were no main effects or interactions for most contractile properties. However, MVIC force developed in the first 200 ms showed 9.5% (p = 0.1) and 19.1% (p = 0.03) decreases with IPSI-R at post-test and 5-min post-test.

Conclusion: Data suggest that RM-induced neural inhibition decreased MVIC F200 and nullified the testing-induced increase in evoked pain associated with 70% tetanic stimulation.

Keywords: Foam roller; Massage; Muscle twitch; Tetanus; Visual analogue scale.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction*
  • Male
  • Massage / adverse effects
  • Massage / methods*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Myalgia / therapy*
  • Neural Inhibition
  • Random Allocation
  • Torque