Is foam rolling effective for muscle pain and flexibility? The science isn’t so sure


Credits: Shutterstock

Many physically active people suffer from “delayed onset muscle soreness” or muscle soreness known as DOMS after exercise.

Fascia training has emerged as a common means of relieving delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle stiffness.

You are likely to find Form Any gym may have rollers, you may have them yourself, and many people vow to use them before and after exercise.

But what does science say? Is fascia training really effective in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness and increasing flexibility?

Unfortunately, scientific research often does not always support anecdotal evidence.

This seems to be the case with fascia training. Evidence does not strongly support the use of foam rollers, but some studies show a slight advantage.

What is Fascia Training?

Foam rolling is a type of self-massage that typically uses a cylindrical foam roller.

They were first used in the 1980s and are now commonly used in warm-up and / or cool-down exercises.

Proponents say Foam rolling can be reduced muscle pain, And increase flexibility (also known as range of motion).

However, the mechanism underlying these claims is not well known.

How does fascia training work?

Foam rollers and other similar devices are claimed to release the tension in the “fascia”.

The fascia is the thin connective tissue that surrounds our muscles. It prevents friction between tissues and transfers the force generated by muscle fibers to the bone.

Fascia Sticky and tight For sedentary lifestyles, repetitive exercises that overwork parts of the body, injuries, or surgery. Tightening of the fascia can reduce flexibility.

My research team and me at Edith Cowan University Research The role of fascia in delayed onset muscle soreness.

Participants in our study performed 10 sets of 6 biceps curls and developed a very painful arm the next day.

Their muscle pain was assessed one, two, and four days after exercise.

Is Fascia Training Effective for Myalgia and Flexibility?Science is not so certain

Delayed onset muscle soreness may be more related to the fascia that surrounds the muscle than to the muscle itself. Credits: Shutterstock

They also evaluated their pain using an “electrical stimulator” and quantified the fascia and muscle susceptibility of the biceps brachii to electrical current.

The fascia surrounding the muscle has been found to be more sensitive to electrical stimuli than the muscle itself.

Scientists believe that small crevices in muscle fibers are the cause of delayed onset muscle soreness. However, our study suggests that fascial damage or inflammation is more associated with delayed onset muscle soreness than muscle fiber damage.

Fascia claims to stretch the fascia, thereby stretching the fascia Can reduce such pain and inflammation..

However, the evidence of fascia training is mixed.

Evidence is still emerging, but there are some studies on fascia training.

NS Systematic review article The results of fascia training, based on 49 studies, concluded that fascia training reduced muscle stiffness and pain and increased range of motion. However, the authors state that it should be used in combination with dynamic stretching and pre-exercise active warm-up.

Another study We investigated whether fascia training was effective in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness and promoting muscle recovery. Participants trained twice at 4-week intervals, each containing 10 sets of back squats.

Second, one group used foam rollers for 20 minutes immediately 24 and 48 hours after exercise, while another group did not use foam rollers at all. Fascia training was moderately effective in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness.

However Another recent review In a meta-analysis of 21 studies on fascia training (combining the results of multiple scientific studies), the impact of fascia training on performance and recovery is negligible, and fascia training is used as a warm-up activity rather than recovery. A tool that concludes that it is necessary.

The article also found that pre-exercise fascia training increased flexibility by only 4%. Post-exercise rolling also reduced the perception of myalgia by 6%.

However, statistical significance does not necessarily reflect practical significance. Most people may not notice much about a 4% increase in flexibility and a 6% reduction in pain.

again, Multiple studies The range of motion has expanded due to foam rolling, About 20 minutes..

Therefore, the impact of fascia training on flexibility does not seem to be significant, and the long-term impact is not decisive.

One of the problems in this area of ​​study was the variety of rolling protocols used in the study, and no clear consensus on the ideal number of sets, duration, rolling frequency, or intensity.

Interestingly, the magnitude of the impact on range of motion after fascia rolling is: Same as stretching..

Therefore, if your goal is to increase your range of motion, you can consider both stretching and fascia training as a good warm-up routine. Previous studies have not clearly shown that fascia training was more effective than other interventions to improve previous flexibility. exercise..

But keep in mind. Fascia training is generally considered safe, but it is best to avoid it if you have the following serious injuries: logic Tear unless your doctor or physiotherapist cleans you up first.

Tips and Techniques for Relieving Myalgia

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