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 (2017) 16, 474 - 479

Research article
Preventive and Regenerative Foam Rolling are Equally Effective in Reducing Fatigue-Related Impairments of Muscle Function following Exercise
Johannes Fleckenstein1,2, , Jan Wilke1, Lutz Vogt1, Winfried Banzer1
Author Information
1 Department of Sports Medicine, Institute of Sports Sciences, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2 Department of TCM/Acupuncture, Institute of Complementary Medicine, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Johannes Fleckenstein
✉ Department of Sports Medicine, Institute of Sports Sciences, Goethe University, Ginnheimer Landstr. 39, D-60487 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Publish Date
Received: 26-08-2017
Accepted: 11-09-2017
Published (online): 01-12-2017
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Objectives of the study were to compare the effects of a single bout of preventive or regenerative foam rolling (FR) on exercise-induced neuromuscular exhaustion. Single-centre randomised-controlled study was designed. Forty-five healthy adults (22 female; 25±2 yrs) were allocated to three groups: 1) FR of the lower limb muscles prior to induction of fatigue, 2) FR after induction of fatigue, 3) no-treatment control. Neuromuscular exhaustion was provoked using a standardized and validated functional agility short-term fatigue protocol. Main outcome measure was the maximal isometric voluntary force of the knee extensors (MIVF). Secondary outcomes included pain and reactive strength (RSI). Preventive (-16%) and regenerative FR (-12%) resulted in a decreased loss in MIVF compared to control (-21%; p < 0.001) five minutes after exhaustion. Post-hoc tests indicated a large-magnitude, non-significant trend towards regenerative foam rolling to best restore strength (Cohen’s d > 0.8, p < 0.1). Differences over time (p < 0.001) between groups regarding pain and RSI did not turn out to be clinically meaningful. A single bout of foam rolling reduces neuromuscular exhaustion with reference to maximal force production. Regenerative rather than preventive foam rolling seems sufficient to prevent further fatigue.

Key words: Rehabilitation, self-myofascial release, manual medicine, pain therapy, sports medicine, neuromuscular fatigue

           Key Points
  • Foam rolling directly affects muscular structures following exhaustion.
  • The effects are independent of the time of intervention (whether pre or post to the load).
  • Regenerative foam rolling seems adequate to elicit beneficial effects.
  • Foam rolling could be helpful in preventing sports-related muscular injury.
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