Research Review: Self-administered Release Technique Improves Dorsiflexion ROM Without Loss of Force Production

By Stefanie DiCarrado DPT, PT, NASM CPT & CES

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

Original Citation:  Halperin, I.,  Aboodarda, S.J., Button, D.C., Andersen, L.L., Behm, D.G. (2014). Roller massager improves range of motion of plantar flexor muscles without subsequent decreases in force parameters. The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 9(1): 92 -102 - ARTICLE

Subject using roller massager on his plantarflexors

Why is this relevant?: Previous research identified decreased dorsiflexion (DF) as a contributing factor to lower extremity injuries within an athletic population (1-3).  Specifically, decreased DF has been linked to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. The inability to advance the tibia in closed chain may result in eversion, tibial external rotation and femoral internal rotation - i.e. collapse of the lower extremity into a functional valgus.  Unfortunately, research (inconclusive) has also been promoted that demonstrates maximal power and force production decreases for a period of several hours after stretching techniques are administered.  Some professionals have implied that these same findings would apply to foam rolling. This has lead to a puzzling question in regard to practice, "Do we enhance mobility in restricted segments prior to athletic activity, or should we only use flexibility techniques post exercise?" This study addresses the question of whether a decrease in max strength and power is noted immediately following self-administered release techniques (SMR, Foam Rolling, Etc.).

Study Summary

Study Design Randomized Cross Over Design
Level of Evidence Ib: Single Randomized Cross Over Study
Subject Demographics

  • Age:

    • Males: 23 + 4 years
    • Females: 22 + 3 years
  • Gender: 12 Males, 2 Females
  • Characteristics:

    • Males: 70.2 + 10.4 kg;