Do Foam Rollers Work?
Are foam rollers good or bad? Well recent evidence suggest it does help with delayed onset of muscle soreness and performance. MacDonald, 2004 found it improved vertical jump height, muscle activation, and passive and dynamic range of motion (ROM) in comparison with control. However foam rolling was shown to negatively affected several contractile properties of the muscle, indicating that foam rolling benefits are primarily through neural responses and connective tissue.
Foam Rolling Protocol
Foam rolling was performed along the anterior, lateral, posterior, and medial aspect of the thigh, along with the gluteal (bum) muscles. The subjects performed each of the five exercises on both the right and left legs for 2 x 60 seconds each.
For exercises targeting the thigh (anterior, lateral, posterior, and medial), the subjects were instructed to place their body weight on the foam roller, starting at the proximal (closes to the head) aspect of the thigh and rolling down the thigh, using small back and forth movements, gradually working their way toward the knee. Once the foam roller reached the distal (close to the feet) aspect of the thigh, the subjects were instructed to return the roller to the starting position in one fluid motion and continue the sequence for the remainder of the 60-s trial.
For the fifth exercise, targeting the gluteal muscles, the subjects were instructed to sit on top of the foam roller, placing both of their hands on the floor behind the foam roller. The subjects then crossed their right/left leg over their left/right knee, positioning their body so their right/left gluteal muscles were in contact with the roller, and their body weight was placed on the foam roller. The subjects were instructed to move back and forth, with the foam roller running inline with the origin to insertion point of the gluteus maximus muscle. The subjects completed all five exercises on one side of the body and then switched to the other side of the body and repeated all five exercises.
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MacDonald, G. Z., Button, D. C., Drinkwater, E. J., & Behm, D. G. (2014). Foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense bout of physical activity. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 46(1), 131-142.