Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Study Spotlight: Preventative & Regenerative Foam Rolling on Reducing Fatigue of Muscles

By: Joel Luedke

Foam rolling can have many benefits.  Often we talk about it helping with your movement and mobility to loosen up muscles and help restore more motion to the joints.  In this Study Spotlight we take a look at some other areas that foam rolling can help with, mainly muscle strength and fatigue.

What They Did:
Forty five health adults (men & women) were broken up into three groups.

  1. Foam Roll of the lower limb muscles prior to induction of fatigue
  2. Foam Roll after induction of fatigue
  3. No treatment; control
These participants were put through a neuromuscular exhaustion protocol that was meant to elicit functional agility short-term fatigue.  The measurements they were looking at was max isometric (not moving) voluntary force of the knee extensors (quads).  They also looked at pain perception and reactive strength (RSI).
The foam rolling protocol they used was the following: Muscles focused on were the quad, hamstrings, adductors, calf muscles and the IT band tract.  Each group was treated for 30s each with slow and constant movements at constant pressure between the origin and insertion of the muscle.  A metronome was used to keep consistent pace and a goal of 7 of 10 on a pain scale (mild to moderate discomfort) was used to try and standardize intensity.

What They Found:
When it came to decreasing the loss of strength both the preventative and regenerative foam rolling sessions showed significant results.  Upon further analysis there was a trend toward regenerative foam rolling as the best time to restore strength but this was not statistically significant.

What It All Means:
The researchers do a great job in the discussion and conclusion stating how nothing in this study was perfectly definitive and that more research will be needed in order to know for absolutely certain how foam rolling can affect these things.  That being said the data they did find is interesting.  The use of foam rolling and when to use it can be confusing and depending on your application it can be very helpful and may harmful.  We recommend reading Dr. John Rusin's article, 'Stop Mindlessly Foam Rolling Like a Jackass' for more information.

What this study does tells us is that you should be doing some form of self soft tissue mobilization can be very beneficial for you when it comes to restoring strength and minimizing fatigue as much as possible.  Now whether you do that before or after is up to you but the data seems to be trending in focusing on doing it as a form of regeneration.  This can be useful after workouts and/or competition. The other area this can open up to is potentially using a foam roller at breaks in your competition to potentially help reduce fatigue and enhance performance for the second part of the competition or workout.

Bottom Line: You should probably become friends with a foam roller.

Source: Fleckenstein, J. Preventative and Regenerative Foam Rolling are Equally Effective in Reducing Fatigue-Related Impairments of Muscle Function following Exercise. journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2017) 16, 474-479.

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