Foam Rolling Prescription: A Clinical Commentary

J Strength Cond Res. 2020 Nov;34(11):3301-3308. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003765.


Behm, DG, Alizadeh, S, Hadjizadeh Anvar, S, Mahmoud, MMI, Ramsay, E, Hanlon, C, and Cheatham, S. Foam rolling prescription: a clinical commentary. J Strength Cond Res 34(11): 3301-3308, 2020-Although the foam rolling and roller massage literature generally reports acute increases in range of motion (ROM) with either trivial or small performance improvements, there is little information regarding appropriate rolling prescription. The objective of this literature review was to appraise the evidence and provide the best prescriptive recommendations for rolling to improve ROM and performance. The recommendations represent studies with the greatest magnitude effect size increases in ROM and performance. A systematic search of the rolling-related literature found in PubMed, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, and Google Scholar was conducted using related terms such as foam rolling, roller massage, ROM, flexibility, performance, and others. From the measures within articles that monitored ROM (25), strength (41), jump (41), fatigue (67), and sprint (62) variables; regression correlations and predictive quadratic equations were formulated for number of rolling sets, repetition frequency, set duration, and rolling intensity. The analysis revealed the following conclusions. To achieve the greatest ROM, the regression equations predicted rolling prescriptions involving 1-3 sets of 2-4-second repetition duration (time for a single roll in one direction over the length of a body part) with a total rolling duration of 30-120-second per set. Based on the fewer performance measures, there were generally trivial to small magnitude decreases in strength and jump measures. In addition, there was insufficient evidence to generalize on the effects of rolling on fatigue and sprint measures. In summary, relatively small volumes of rolling can improve ROM with generally trivial to small effects on strength and jump performance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Massage / instrumentation
  • Massage / methods*
  • Movement
  • Muscle Strength
  • Prescriptions*
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Running / physiology