Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2018) 17, 525 - 532

Research article
The Addition of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation with Roller Massage Alone or in Combination Did Not Increase Pain Tolerance or Range of Motion
James D. Young, Alyssa-Joy Spence, Gerard Power, David G. Behm 
Author Information
School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada

David G. Behm
✉ School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada, A1C 5S7
Email: dbehm@mun.can
Publish Date
Received: 11-06-2018
Accepted: 13-08-2018
Published (online): 20-11-2018
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Roller massage (RM) can be painful and induce muscle activity during application. Acute increases in pain pressure threshold (PPT) and range of motion (ROM) have been previously reported following RM. It is unclear whether the RM-induced increases in PPT and ROM can be attributed to changes in neural or muscle responses. To help determine if neural pain pathways are affected by roller massage, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) was utilized as a form of electroanalgesia during RM with PPT and ROM tested on the affected and contralateral quadriceps. The purpose of this study was to evaluate in both quadriceps, the effect of brief intense TENS on PPT and ROM following unilateral RM of the quadriceps. A randomized within subjects’ design was used to examine local and non-local effects of TENS and roller massage versus a control condition (rolling without TENS application). Four 30s bouts of roller massage of the dominant quadriceps were implemented with 30s of rest. The researcher applied the RM using a constant pressure device with approximately 70% of the maximum tolerable load. Perceived pain was monitored using a visual analog scale (VAS) during RM. Ipsilateral and contralateral quadriceps ROM and PPT were measured immediately following RM. Significant main effects for time showed increased PPT and ROM in both the treated and contralateral quadriceps, with no significant main effects for intervention or interactions for intervention and time. Moderate to large effect sizes and minimal clinically important differences (MCID) were detected when comparing baseline to pre- and post-tests respectively. VAS scores were significantly (main effect for intervention) and near significantly (interactions) reduced with MCID when TENS was applied during rolling. The addition of TENS to rolling did not increase PPT or ROM in the affected or contralateral quadriceps, likely due to a repeated testing effect.

Key words: Pain, stretching, flexibility, foam roller, self-myofascial release

           Key Points
  • The simultaneous use of RM and TENS did not cause any additional effects to pain tolerance or ROM in either the treated or contralateral quadriceps.
  • A repeated testing effect seemed to diminish MCID or small magnitude changes in PPT. Prior and future RM pain tolerance results should be viewed with caution if only a single pre-test is conducted.
  • TENS decreases the relative amount of perceived pain during RM. This is an important consideration for future research and eventually clinical application.
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