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23.04.2016


Self-massage with foam roller speeds up post strength-training recovery

Giving yourself a massage with a foam roller after a heavy workout reduces muscle soreness and slightly speeds up the recovery of the muscles you've trained. Australian sports scientists explain this in the Journal of Athletic Training. Is the effect big enough to incorporate foam-roller treatments in your routines? That's up to you.

Study
The researchers got eight fit and physically active students to do ten sets of squats to failure on two different occasions. On one occasion the students did nothing afterwards; on the other they massaged the muscles in their upper legs with a foam roller after the workout. They did so just after the training session, and again 24 and 48 hours later.

The five exercises the students did to massage their legs are shown below. They massaged both legs and each session took a total of 20 minutes. For more details we refer you to the study; at the bottom of this page you'll find a link to the entire publication.


Self-massage with foam roller speeds up post strength-training recovery



Results
The researchers measured how hard they could press on the subjects' leg muscles before the pain became unbearable. After the strength training the muscles were more sensitive. More sensitive muscles = more muscle soreness. The figure below shows that the foam-roller massage reduced the muscle soreness on the first and second day.


Self-massage with foam roller speeds up post strength-training recovery



The subjects also had to do long jumps before their strength training and then 24, 48 and 72 hours later. After the workout the subjects found this more difficult because their muscles were in recovery. Their recovery was faster though when they used the foam roller for massage.


Self-massage with foam roller speeds up post strength-training recovery



The researchers got the subjects to do squats for their strength training using weights that were 70 percent of the weight at which they could just manage 1 rep [1RM]. After the strength training the subjects were able to do fewer reps. Once again, the foam roller massage seemed to speed up the recovery process.


Self-massage with foam roller speeds up post strength-training recovery



Conclusion
"Athletes commonly must train or compete during consecutive days despite discomfort and pain they may have sustained from previous exercise", the researchers wrote. "At times of severe delayed onset muscle soreness [DOMS], athletes can experience decrements in physical performance up to and beyond 72 hours postexercise."

"To combat the adverse effects of DOMS, a 20-minute bout of foam rolling on a high-density roller immediately postexercise and every 24 hours thereafter may reduce the likelihood of muscle tenderness and decrements in multijointed dynamic movements."

"Just three 20-minute bouts (60 minutes total) of foam rolling can substantially enhance recovery after DOMS and alleviate muscle tenderness. This form of self-induced massage could benefit athletes seeking a recovery modality that is relatively affordable, easy to perform, and time efficient and that enhances muscular recovery."

Source:
J Athl Train. 2015 Jan;50(1):5-13.

More:
More joint mobility after a few minutes on the foam roller 08.06.2013
Foam roller makes blood vessels suppler 31.05.2013

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Strength Training