Foam rolling, a literature review
Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release (SMR) has gained increasing popularity amongst active populations to both aid in exercise recovery and prevent injury. With this in mind, the authors of the present study sought to investigate the current literature to determine the efficacy of SMR. After investigating the data from several studies the authors concluded that overall SMR has a positive effect on range of motion (ROM) and muscle soreness/fatigue following exercise however there appears to be a lack of clearly defined parameters.
A literature search using four databases (PUBMED, EBSCO, EMBASE, and CINAHL) was conducted and included articles during and prior to 2014. Using search terms such as: “foam roller” and “myofascial release” the authors identified nine randomized controlled trials for their analysis.
Overall, SMR has been shown to decrease exercise related muscle fatigue. This may indirectly effect performance by allowing the individual to train harder and more frequently. More directly, two studies investigating performance showed an improvement on vertical jump height and maximal force production and that there may be a duration dependent (>90 second sets) relationship. In 5 of 6 studies ROM was also shown to be positively affected.
Despite these findings, without clearly defined parameters and more importantly, mechanisms of action, to what extent should we incorporate SMR and foam rolling into our programming?
> From: Schroeder et al., Curr Sport Med Rep 14 (2015) 200-208. All rights reserved to American College of Sports Medicine. Click here for the Pubmed summary.