Now that you’ve settled down from the shock of that headline, take a moment to accept the now scientifically-validated truth that we have all known from our anecdotal evidence.
Yes, foam rollers have now been scientifically proven to work (sort of sounds like “Yes, Virginia, Santa really exists…” but I digress – and that statement belonged in a post last month not this month).
Doctors MacDonald, Button, Drinkwater, and Behm led a study that has now been published in a variety of journals regarding the use of foam rolling as a recovery tool following intense exercise. The study first appeared last July, but it was published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s official journal Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise this month.
While I didn’t purchase the entire study, the abstract outlines that the study involved 20 athletes, split evenly into test and control groups, and sought to measure improvement in a number of metrics, including thigh girth, muscle soreness, range of motion (ROM), evoked and voluntary contractile properties, vertical jump, perceived pain while FR, and force placed on the foam roller. The net/net was that the test group found reduced muscle soreness and improved ROM, which improved vertical jump height.
So this conclusion is not really all that shocking to me. I have used a foam roller for several years now – going back to when I had a pretty intense bout of IT band syndrome. I really have felt that using a roller has been very effective at helping stretch areas and remove what I perceive as adhesion or scar tissue in my connective tissues. I often roll my IT band and glutes. I find, however, that using a foam roller is slightly less effective on other areas (calves, for instance). That could be more a function of my poor rolling technique than anything. I use a lacrosse or golf ball to get those hard-to-reach areas instead.
If you’re interested in reading the abstract of the study (or purchasing the full study), click HERE.