How effective is a foam roller for performance and recovery?
The foam roller has been a staple in most homes and physiotherapy clinics for the past few decades. But how effective is it pre and post activity when it comes down to overall performance and recovery. Well, a recent meta-analysis by Wiewelhove et al 2019, looked exactly at this phenomenon comparing the effects of foam rolling on performance indicators including sprinting, jumping and strength performance and flexibility and muscle pain outcomes. What they find were very small improvements in flexibility and pain perception outcomes, with a trivial effect on sprint and strength performance.
Overall, the meta-analysis described the use of foam roller as a beneficial warm up activity rather than a recovery activity.
So, if you are looking to get improved benefits with the use of the foam roller, maybe start to look at other exercises that will actively prime the body. When it all boils down to it, the effects of foam roller on flexibility are marginal and there is no conclusive benefit in the long term.
Now don’t hear what I’m not saying, the foam roller isn’t bad for you. And it certainly feels good as a warmup or recovery tool, so if it makes you feel good, then do it! Just make sure there is some activation work thrown in there alongside it and you’ve got the full package.
Wiewelhove, T., Döweling, A., Schneider, C., Hottenrott, L., Meyer, T., Kellmann, M., Pfeiffer, M., & Ferrauti, A. (2019). A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery. Frontiers in physiology, 10, 376. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00376
Jamie Cheok – BeFit Training Physio Randwick
Jamie Cheok is a physiotherapist based in Randwick in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Jamie has successfully treated musculoskeletal problems on the basis of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with evidence-based rehabilitation programs tailored to the needs and goals of each individual. To book a consultation, click the link below.