Effect of Foam Roll recovery method on performance in water polo players: a randomized controlled trial

Phys Sportsmed. 2024 Jun;52(3):262-270. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2023.2240274. Epub 2023 Aug 1.


Objectives: This intervention study aimed to evaluate how the use of Foam Roller (FR) as a recovery strategy affects water polo performance after a seven-week (28-session) program.

Design: A randomized controlled trial.

Methods: Thirty water polo players (14 male amateur players and 16 female sub-elite players) were assigned by means of sealed opaque envelopes to the control group (CG) or Foam Roller Group (FRG) and performed the same total number and intensity of training sessions. Test protocols were performed before (pretest), in-test (week 5), and after the intervention period (posttest). These included water polo-specific performance tests such as in-water boost, throwing speed, and 20 m sprint swimming tests. In addition, during the intervention, heart rate (HR), the scale of perceived exertion of the session (sRPE), and total quality recovery scale (TQR) data were recorded.

Results: There were no differences in the baseline values in any of the variables analyzed between CG and FRG. A small decrease in in-water boost was observed in CG (-2%, ES = -0.35 [-0.95: 0.26], p = 0.016, very likely small) and in FRG (-2%, ES = -0.33 [-0.93: 0.27], p = 0.021, likely small). No significant changes were found in either the 20 m swim test or the throwing test in CG and FRG. No clear differences among groups and weeks were found in sRPE, TQR and HR.

Conclusion: The findings indicate that the use of FR as a recovery tool after training and matches is not useful in water polo players.

Keywords: Myofascial release therapy; fatigue; recovery; team sports; training monitoring.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Performance* / physiology
  • Female
  • Heart Rate* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Swimming / physiology
  • Water Sports* / physiology
  • Young Adult