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Akane Yoshimura, Robert Schleip and Norikazu Hirose

Context: Several studies have reported that self-massage using a foam roller (FR) increased joint range of motion (ROM) immediately. However, the mechanism of increasing ROM by the FR intervention has not been elucidated. Objective: To clarify the mechanism by investigating properties and morphological changes of muscles targeted by the FR intervention. Design: An interventional study. Setting: An athletic training laboratory. Participants: Ten male college volunteers with no injuries in their lower limbs (mean [SD]: age 23.8 [3.2] y, height 173.2 [4.9] cm, weight 69.5 [8.6] kg). Intervention: The FR intervention on the right plantar flexors for 3 minutes. Main Outcome Measures: Maximum ankle ROM, muscle hardness, and fascicle length of the gastrocnemius muscle at the neutral (0°), maximum dorsiflexion, and maximum plantar flexion positions. All measurements were conducted before (PRE) and after (POST) the FR intervention. Results: Dorsiflexion ROM increased significantly at POST (PRE: 13.6° [8.0°], POST: 16.6° [8.4°]; P < .001), although plantar flexion ROM did not change significantly between PRE and POST (PRE: 40.0° [6.1°], POST: 41.1° [4.9°]). There was no significant difference in muscle hardness and fascicle length between PRE and POST in any of the angles. Conclusions: Dorsiflexion ROM increased significantly by the FR intervention in the present study; however, muscle hardness and fascicle length did not change. FR may affect not only the muscle but also the fascia, tendon, and muscle-tendon unit. The FR protocol of the present study can be applied in clinical situations, because it was found to be effective to increase ROM.

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Jan Wilke, Philipp Niemeyer, Daniel Niederer, Robert Schleip and Winfried Banzer

Context: Foam rolling (FR) increases joint range of motion (RoM), but the optimal training parameters are unknown. Objective: To investigate the effect of FR velocity on RoM and tissue stiffness. Design: Randomized, controlled crossover trial. Setting: University. Participants: A total of 17 healthy, physically active adults (10 females; 25 [2] y). Interventions: (1) Four 45-second high-velocity FR of the anterior thigh (FAST-FR), (2) four 45-second slow-velocity FR of the anterior thigh (SLOW-FR), and (3) inactive control. Outcome Measures: Maximal knee-flexion RoM (ultrasonic movement analysis) and anterior thigh tissue stiffness (semielectronic tissue compliance meter) assessed pre, immediately post (T0), as well as 5 (T5) and 10 (T10) minutes postintervention. Statistical analysis included Friedman tests with adjusted post hoc comparisons (Wilcoxon tests). Results: According to omnibus testing, RoM remained unchanged in all 3 conditions and at all time points (P > .05), while differences were found for tissue stiffness (P < .05). Post hoc tests revealed significant decreases following FAST-FR (T5: −17%, T10: −24%; P < .05) and SLOW-FR (T10: −15%; P < .05). The observed stiffness changes were significant in comparison with control (P < .01), but no difference was found between the 2 FR conditions (P > .05). Conclusions: FR of the anterior thigh decreases myofascial stiffness regardless of velocity. The lack of effects on RoM contrasts findings of recent literature and warrants further investigation.