Are Acute Effects of Foam-Rolling Attributed to Dynamic Warm Up Effects? A Comparative Study

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  • Konstantin Warneke
  • José Carlos Aragão-Santos
  • Shahab Alizadeh
  • Mahdi Bahrami
  • Saman Hadjizadeh Anvar
  • Andreas Konrad
  • David G. Behm

Over the last decade, acute increases in range of motion (ROM) in response to foam rolling (FR) have been frequently reported. Compared to stretching, FR-induced ROM increases were not typically accompanied by a performance (e.g., force, power, endurance) deficit. Consequently, the inclusion of FR in warm-up routines was frequently recommended, especially since literature pointed out non-local ROM increases after FR. However, to attribute ROM increases to FR it must be ensured that such adaptations do not occur as a result of simple warm-up effects, as significant increases in ROM can also be assumed as a result of active warm-up routines. To answer this research question, 20 participants were recruited using a cross-over design. They performed 4x45 seconds hamstrings rolling under two conditions; FR, and sham rolling (SR) using a roller board to imitate the foam rolling movement without the pressure of the foam rolling. They were also tested in a control condition. Effects on ROM were tested under passive, active dynamic as well as ballistic conditions. Moreover, to examine non-local effects the knee to wall test (KtW) was used. Results showed that both interventions provided significant, moderate to large magnitude increases in passive hamstrings ROM and KtW respectively, compared to the control condition (p = 0.007 - 0.041, d = 0.62 - 0.77 and p = 0.002 - 0.006, d = 0.79 - 0.88, respectively). However, the ROM increases were not significantly different between the FR and the SR condition (p = 0.801, d = 0.156 and p = 0.933, d = 0.09, respectively). No significant changes could be obtained under the active dynamic (p = 0.65) while there was a significant decrease in the ballistic testing condition with a time effect (p < 0.001). Thus, it can be assumed that potential acute increases in ROM cannot be exclusively attributed to FR. It is therefore speculated that warm up effects could be responsible independent of FR or imitating the rolling movement, which indicates there is no additive effect of FR or SR to the dynamic or ballistic range of motion.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sports Science and Medicine
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)180-188
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2023

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