The Effects of Self-Myofascial Release Using a Foam Roll or Roll Massager on Joint Range of Motion, Muscle Recovery and Performance: A Systematic Review
A review on the effects of using foam roll or roll massager on self -myofascial release.
Written by Scott W. Cheatham, Morey J. Kolber, Matt Cain, Matt Lee
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Self-myofascial release (SMR) is a popular intervention used to enhance a client’s myofascial mobility. Common tools include the foam roll and roller massager. Often these tools are used as part of a comprehensive program and are often recommended to the client to purchase and use at home. Currently, there are no systematic reviews that have appraised the effects of these tools on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance. The purpose of this review was to critically appraise the current evidence and answer the following questions: (1) Does self-myofascial release with a foam roll or roller-massager improve joint range of motion (ROM) without effecting muscle performance? (2) After an intense bout of exercise, does self-myofascial release with a foam roller or roller-massager enhance post exercise muscle recovery and reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS)? (3) Does self-myofascial release with a foam roll or roller-massager prior to activity affect muscle performance? A search strategy was conducted, prior to April 2015, which included electronic databases and known journals. Included studies met the following criteria: 1) Peer reviewed, english language publications 2) Investigations that measured the effects of SMR using a foam roll or roller massager on joint ROM, acute muscle soreness, DOMS, and muscle performance 3) Investigations that compared an intervention program using a foam roll or roller massager to a control group 4) Investigations that compared two intervention programs using a foam roll or roller massager. The quality of manuscripts was assessed using the PEDro scale. A total of 14 articles met the inclusion criteria. SMR with a foam roll or roller massager appears to have shortterm effects on increasing joint ROM without negatively affecting muscle performance and may help attenuate decrements in muscle performance and DOMS after intense exercise. Short bouts of SMR prior to exercise do not appear to effect muscle performance. The current literature measuring the effects of SMR is still emerging. The results of this analysis suggests that foam rolling and roller massage may be effective interventions for enhancing joint ROM and pre and post exercise muscle performance. However, due to the heterogeneity of methods among studies, there currently is no consensus on the optimal SMR program.
The results of this systematic review indicate that SMR using either foam rolling or roller massage may have short-term effects of increasing joint ROM without decreasing muscle performance. Foam rolling and roller massage may also attenuate decrements in muscle performance and reduce perceived pain after an intense bout of exercise. Short bouts of foam rolling or roller massage prior to physical activity have no negative affect on muscle performance. However, due to the heterogeneity of methods among studies, there currently is no consensus on the optimal SMR intervention (treatment time, pressure, and cadence) using these tools. The current literature consists of randomized controlled trials (PEDRO score of 6 or greater), which provide good evidence, but there is currently not enough high quality evidence to draw any firm conclusions. Future research should focus on replication of methods and the utilization of larger sample sizes. The existing literature does provide some evidence for utility of methods in clinical practice but the limitations should be considered prior to integrating such methods.