Effect of foam-rolling on athletic performance
Foam-rolling became more and more popular since 2013 and is now a common treatment in physiotherapy. But although the interest in foam-rolling increases, scientific evidence is still lacking. Thus, this review aimed to summarise the current knowledge on foam-rolling.
The foam-rollers are intended to achieve a massage and stretch effect on the underlying tissue, in particular the fascial tissue. Foam-rolling is often used to reduce myofascial pain, enhance recovery after endurance and strength efforts. However, only few very heterogeneous studies on the effects of foam-rollers exist, and current research is deficient and contradictory.
Furthermore, several studies postulated that foam-rolling improve warming up, blood flow, and athletic performance. However, the majority of studies did not show an effect of foam-rolling exercises in warming-up procedures on performance parameters in athletes. Also the effects of foam-rolling exercises on anaerobic power, sensomotoric function, relaxation, and reduced muscle are inconclusive and can at this time not be recommended.
However, it seems that foam-rolling exercises can temporarily increase the range of motion of hip, knee, and ankle-joint without impairing the neuromuscular activity or maximum isometric force and that it can reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness. Nevertheless, stretching exercises showed the largest effects.
Studies showed that application of the foam-roller in peripheral neuropathy, diabetes mellitus and venous thrombosis or osteoporosis are absolute contraindications and can lead to harmful effects. Additionally, attention should be paid to bony prominences.
To sum up the evidence on foam-rolling exercises is limited and thus they should be used with caution.
> From: Freiwald et al., Sports Orthop Traumatol (2016) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd. Click here for the Pubmed summary.