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Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures [with consumer summary]
Pearcey GEP, Bradbury-Squires DJ, Kawamoto J-E, Drinkwater EJ, Behm DG, Button DC
Journal of Athletic Training 2015 Jan;50(1):5-13
clinical trial
4/10 [Eligibility criteria: No; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: No; Baseline comparability: Yes; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: No; Adequate follow-up: No; Intention-to-treat analysis: No; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

CONTEXT: After an intense bout of exercise, foam rolling is thought to alleviate muscle fatigue and soreness (ie, delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)) and improve muscular performance. Potentially, foam rolling may be an effective therapeutic modality to reduce DOMS while enhancing the recovery of muscular performance. OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense exercise protocol through assessment of pressure-pain threshold, sprint time, change-of-direction speed, power, and dynamic strength-endurance. DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study. SETTING: University laboratory. PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: A total of 8 healthy, physically active males (age 22.1 +/- 2.5 years, height 177.0 +/- 7.5 cm, mass 88.4 +/- 11.4 kg) participated. INTERVENTION(S): Participants performed 2 conditions, separated by 4 weeks, involving 10 sets of 10 repetitions of back squats at 60% of their 1-repetition maximum, followed by either no foam rolling or 20 minutes of foam rolling immediately, 24, and 48 hours postexercise. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Pressure-pain threshold, sprint speed (30-m sprint time), power (broad-jump distance), change-of-direction speed (t-test), and dynamic strength-endurance. RESULTS: Foam rolling substantially improved quadriceps muscle tenderness by a moderate to large amount in the days after fatigue (Cohen d range 0.59 to 0.84). Substantial effects ranged from small to large in sprint time (Cohen d range 0.68 to 0.77), power (Cohen d range 0.48 to 0.87), and dynamic strength-endurance (Cohen d = 0.54). CONCLUSIONS: Foam rolling effectively reduced DOMS and associated decrements in most dynamic performance measures.

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