Comparison of a foam rolling session with active joint motion and without joint motion: A randomized controlled trial

Research paper by Scott W. Cheatham, Kyle R. Stull

Indexed on: 03 Mar '18Published on: 05 Feb '18Published in: Journal of bodywork and movement therapies


Publication date: Available online 2 February 2018 Source:Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies Author(s): Scott W. Cheatham, Kyle R. Stull Background Foam rolling has become a popular form of self-myofascial release or roller massage among health and fitness professionals. Due to this popularity, foam roller devices can be found in many clinical and fitness settings. Despite the popularity, there are still several unknowns regarding foam rolling such the optimal technique. Specifically, there is a lack of research analyzing different foam roll techniques such as combining active joint motion with foam rolling. Purpose The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of a foam rolling session to the left quadriceps with active joint motion and without joint motion on passive knee flexion range of motion (ROM) and pressure pain thresholds (PPT). Methods Thirty healthy adults were randomly allocated to one of two intervention groups: active joint motion and no joint motion. Each foam roll intervention to the left quadriceps lasted a total of 2 min. Dependent variables included passive knee flexion ROM and pressure pain threshold measures (PPT). Statistical analysis included subject demographic calculations and appropriate parametric and non-parametric tests to measure changes within and between intervention groups. Results For left knee ROM, the active joint motion group demonstrated the greatest immediate increase in passive ROM (8°, p < .001) than the non-motion group (5°, p < .001). For PPT, the active joint motion group demonstrated the greatest immediate increase (180 kPa, p < .001) followed by the non-motion group (133 kPa, p < .001). Between group comparisons revealed a significance between groups for passive knee ROM (p < .001) and PPT (p < .001). Conclusion A short session of foam rolling with active joint motion appears to have a greater effect on passive joint ROM and PPT than rolling without motion. These observed changes may be influenced by the agonistic muscle activity during active motion. This activity may modulate activity of the antagonist muscle through reciprocal inhibition and other neural pathways. Future research is needed to confirm these findings.