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Hsuan Su, Nai-Jen Chang, Wen-Lan Wu, Lan-Yuen Guo and I-Hua Chu

Context:

Foam rolling has been proposed to improve muscle function, performance, and joint range of motion (ROM). However, whether a foam rolling protocol can be adopted as a warm-up to improve flexibility and muscle strength is unclear.

Objectives:

To examine and compare the acute effects of foam rolling, static stretching, and dynamic stretching used as part of a warm-up on flexibility and muscle strength of knee flexion and extension.

Design:

Crossover study.

Setting:

University research laboratory.

Participants:

15 male and 15 female college students (age 21.43 ± 1.48 y, weight 65.13 ± 12.29 kg, height 166.90 ± 6.99 cm).

Main Outcome Measures:

Isokinetic peak torque was measured during knee extension and flexion at an angular velocity of 60°/second. Flexibility of the quadriceps was assessed by the modified Thomas test, while flexibility of the hamstrings was assessed using the sit-and-reach test. The 3 interventions were performed by all participants in random order on 3 days separated by 48–72 hours.

Results:

The flexibility test scores improved significantly more after foam rolling as compared with static and dynamic stretching. With regard to muscle strength, only knee extension peak torque (pre vs. postintervention) improved significantly after the dynamic stretching and foam rolling, but not after static stretching. Knee flexion peak torque remained unchanged.

Conclusions:

Foam rolling is more effective than static and dynamic stretching in acutely increasing flexibility of the quadriceps and hamstrings without hampering muscle strength, and may be recommended as part of a warm-up in healthy young adults.

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Feng-Hua Tsai, I-Hua Chu, Chun-Hao Huang, Jing-Min Liang, Jia-Hroung Wu and Wen-Lan Wu

Context: It has been reported that there is a high rate of Achilles tendon injury among kendo athletes. For protection and to support the area, kendo athletes habitually use taping during practice or games. Objective: To investigate the effect of various taping techniques on injury prevention and functional performance in kendo athletes. Design: Case-control study. Setting: Laboratory. Participants: 15 University Kendo Team athletes with at least 2 y kendo experience. Main Outcome Measures: Athletes completed 5 stepping backwards and striking cycles under 4 taping conditions: no taping, athletic taping of ankle joint (AT-Ankle), athletic taping of Achilles tendon (AT-Achilles), and Kinesio-Tex taping of Achilles tendon (KT-Achilles). Jump distance, lower limb angular motion, left foot-ground contact time, Achilles tendon force (ATF), and soleus and medial gastrocnemius muscle activities were measured. Results: Lowest peak ATF was found in AT-Achilles during heel-down phase, with statistically significant difference from KT-Achilles peak force. Significant decline of soleus muscle electromyography amplitude was also found when compared to no taping during heel-down phase and other conditions during pushing phase. Conversely, KT-Achilles showed significant decrease in foot-ground contact time compared with no taping and greater ankle range of motion than in AT-Ankle. Conclusion: To protect the Achilles tendon, AT-Achilles taping is recommended since it tends to decrease ATF. Conversely, to enhance athlete performance, we recommend KT-Achilles taping to speed up kendo striking motion. However, the Achilles tendon must withstand greatest forces concurrently. This finding implies that AT-Achilles taping can protect the injured Achilles tendon and KT-Achilles taping can enhance performance on the kendo striking motion.