Research Review: Foam rolling may reduce post exercise soreness

By Stefanie DiCarrado DPT, PT, NASM CPT & CES

Edited by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, COMT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

Original Citation: Macdonald, G.Z., Button, D.C., Drinkwater, E.J., Behm, D.G. (2014) Foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense bout of physical activity.  Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 46(1): 131-142 - ABSTRACT


Foam rolling the quadriceps muscles

Why is this relevant?: Research supports the use of foam rolling as a means of improving muscle ROM prior to exercise with out the loss of force production seen in some static stretching studies (2,3,4). However, the use of this modality as a tool for recovery from physical activity requires further examination -- currently limited evidence exists suggesting foam rolling can limit subjective feelings of muscle fatigue (1).  This study provides evidence for the use of foam rolling as a means of reducing post exercise muscle soreness.

Study Summary

Study DesignRandomized Controlled Trial (RTC)
Level of EvidenceLevel II: Evidence from at least 1 RTC
Subject Demographics

  • Age:

    • Foam Roll Group (FRG): 25.1 + 3.6 years
    • Control Group (CON): 24.0 + 2.8 years
  • Gender: 20 males, no females
  • Characteristics: performed resistance training > 3x / week

    • 1 rep max (1RM) squat: 129.2 + 26.7 kg
    • 1RM as % body weight: 152.2% + 24.5%
  • Inclusion Criteria: None listed
  • Exclusion Criteria: None listed
Outcome Measures

  • Measured prior to and immediately after intervention, then again after 24, 48, and 72 hours

    • Perceived Pain (Muscle soreness) - number scale    (0 = no soreness, 10 = worst soreness ever felt)
    • Max Voluntary Contraction (MVC) of quads
    • Vertical Jump Height
    • Muscle Twitch Force