Effects of Static Stretching and Foam Rolling on Ankle Dorsiflexion Range of Motion

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Aug;51(8):1752-1758. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001964.


Static stretching (SS) has been used for inducing acute and long-term increases in range of motion (ROM). Foam rolling (FR) has recently gained popularity for acutely increasing ROM. However, the long-term effects of FR on ROM have not been thoroughly evaluated. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the acute and long-term changes in dorsiflexion ROM as a result of 6 wk of FR, SS, and FR followed by SS (FR + SS).

Methods: Participants (n = 44) were randomly assigned to FR, SS, and FR + SS groups. The FR group foam rolled the triceps surae. The SS group performed a wall stretch for both legs. The FR + SS group performed FR immediately followed by SS. All groups completed 12 training sessions in 6 wk. Dorsiflexion ROM was assessed before and after the first training session, before the second session of week 3, before and after the last session in week 6, and at week 7.

Results: There was a 4.0% acute increase in ROM at week 6 (P = 0.004) for all three groups. ROM increased 8.4% from week 3 to week 7 for all three groups (P < 0.001). When comparing week 1 baseline to week 7, ROM increased 18.3% for all three groups (P = 0.003).

Conclusion: SS and FR seem to be comparable in terms of increasing dorsiflexion ROM acutely as well as after 6 wk of training for healthy, university-age participants. FR combined with SS does not seem to provide a synergistic effect on improving dorsiflexion ROM.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Ankle / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises / methods*
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / methods
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Young Adult