Comparison of a Vibration Roller and a Nonvibration Roller Intervention on Knee Range of Motion and Pressure Pain Threshold: A Randomized Controlled Trial

J Sport Rehabil. 2018 Oct 1;1-7. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2017-0164. Online ahead of print.


Background: Roller massage (RM) has become a common intervention among health and fitness professionals. Recently, manufacturers have merged the science of vibration therapy and RM with the development of vibration rollers. Of interest, is the therapeutic effects of such RM devices.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of a vibration roller and nonvibration roller intervention on prone knee-flexion passive range of motion (ROM) and pressure pain threshold (PPT) of the quadriceps musculature.

Methods: Forty-five recreationally active adults were randomly allocated to one of 3 groups: vibration roller, nonvibration roller, and control. Each roller intervention lasted a total of 2 minutes. The control group did not roll. Dependent variables included prone knee-flexion ROM and PPT measures. Statistical analysis included parametric and nonparametric tests to measure changes among groups.

Results: The vibration roller demonstrated the greatest increase in PPT (180 kPa, P < .001), followed by the nonvibration roller (112 kPa, P < .001) and control (61 kPa, P < .001). For knee flexion ROM, the vibration roller demonstrated the greatest increase in ROM (7°, P < .001), followed by the nonvibration roller (5°, P < .001) and control (2°, P < .001). Between groups, there was a significant difference in PPT between the vibration and nonvibration roller (P = .03) and vibration roller and control (P < .001). There was also a significant difference between the nonvibration roller and control (P < .001). For knee ROM, there was no significant difference between the vibration and nonvibration roller (P = .31). A significant difference was found between the vibration roller and control group (P < .001) and nonvibration roller and control group (P < .001).

Conclusion: The results suggest that a vibration roller may increase an individual's tolerance to pain greater than a nonvibration roller. This investigation should be considered a starting point for future research on this technology.

Keywords: massage; muscle soreness; perceived pain; recovery; technology; therapy vibration.