Self-myofascial release, aka foam rolling, is becoming more and more popular in the sports injury world. Myofascial release was developed by a physiotherapist in Boulder, Colorado, USA as a hands on soft tissue technique that facilitates a stretch to an area of restricted connective tissue (fascia). Therapists and fitness professionals us myofascial release work in program warm ups, cool downs, injury rehabilitation, injury prevention and training programs. Currently there are limited peer-reviewed studies on the uses and effect of foam rolling, but a recent study was published on the effects of a rolling program for the quadriceps muscle. After two one-minute bouts of foam rolling of the quadriceps, with a 30sec rest in between, the range of motion(ROM) of the knee increased 12.7 % after two minutes of the rolling test and 10.3% after 10 minutes of the test. The study showed that even with this increase in ROM there was no decrease in force production of the quadriceps muscle.
There is still much more research to be done in this area, this particular study focused on the acute effects of self-myofascial release but the long term effects have not been studied. It is still unclear if the increased ROM can cause a more permanent increase or if over time the muscle length returns to it’s “pre-rolled” length. If nothing else this is a gateway into further research on the matter. For dancers, perhaps using this technique included in a warm-up would be beneficial, since a great degree of flexibility is important.
Barnes, M. . (1997). The Basic Science of Myofascial release: morphologic change in connective tissue. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 1(4), 231–238.
MacDonald, G. Z., Penney, M. D. H., Mullaley, M. E., Cuconato, A. L., Drake, C. D. J., Behm, D. G., & Button, D. C. (2013). An Acute Bout of Self-Myofascial Release Increase Range of Motion Without a Subsequent Decrease in Muscle Activiation or Force. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(3), 812–821.
CarliAnn & Ella