New study supports the use of foam rollers in increasing Range of Motion in Athletes but not Core Stability.
Self myofascial therapy using a foam roller is a common technique used by many athletes and patients. Whilst it is often suggested that foam rolling may be used aid recovery, improve range of motion (R.O.M.), prevent injury and improve core stability its exact effects have not been researched until now. The first study to examine the effect of foam rolling on athletic performance was published in The Journal of Sports Science Medicine 2019 Jun; 18(2): 229–238.
A team at the Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Salzburg, Austria recruited forty recreationally active females and males (age: 18-48 years of age) and randomly assigned them to a foam rolling group, a core stabilization group and a control group. The foam rolling group massaged their lower leg muscles (5 exercises) with the foam rolled 2 times per week for 8 weeks while the core stability group was assigned to core stability training including 5 exercises.
The study demonstrated that foam rolling can be applied as an effective technique for increasing range of motion within an 8-week training period. There were no improvement in core “strength endurance”, balance and jumping ability within the foam rolling group interestingly they did not deteriorate. Vertical jumping ability and balance were not improved by either foam rolling or core stability training.
Whilst future studies are needed to investigate this issue further the current study suggest that foam rolling may have a place in increasing range of motion in individuals but is not a substitution for other training such as core stability, balance training, power training and sports specific exercises