Foam rolling is an effective home exercise to improve muscular pain, flexibility, and performance. Our previous blog posts detailed the performance benefits of performing foam rolling either before or after your exercise workouts. Our current understanding of the mechanisms behind these benefits are based on two categories: local circulation and improved stretch tolerance. As our nervous system adapts to the stimulus of foam rolling we are able to roll deeper and tolerate a greater stretch than we could before the stimulus of foam rolling. Up until this point, only the short term benefits of foam rolling have been studied. A new research study examines the impact of a long term foam rolling program on flexibility, strength, and performance.
Hodgson and colleagues randomized recreationally active college students to one of three groups: control, rolling three times per week, or rolling six times a week. Each of the intervention groups performed foam rolling of their dominant hamstring and quadricep muscles at their given frequency for 4 weeks. Participants range of motion, strength, and jumping ability were measured before and after the study period. The authors reported no long term benefits of foam rolling or significant interactions for any measurement except a slightly better jump height in the three times a week group. In contrast to the acute benefits of foam rolling, no long term or training benefits were noted after 4 weeks of foam rolling. This study supports our current understanding on the short term nervous system adaptations which follow acute bouts of foam rolling.
Like bathing, the effects of foam rolling do not last, which is why we recommend performing it daily.