Subject the muscles on the front of your thigh to a session with the foam roller, and you can increase the freedom of movement in your hip joint immediately by 8-10 percent, sports scientists at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada discovered. And the increased mobility is not at the expense of muscle strength. If you find strength training taxes your joints, warming up with a foam roller might be of help.
Foam rollers Foam rollers have become an everyday phenomenon in gyms and fitness centres. And it's not without reason: studies have shown that your workout can benefit from the use of rollers. One benefit is that foam rollers increase the suppleness of the blood vessels.
Study The Canadians studies another effect of the foam roller: increased joint mobility. They got 11 active male students to massage the front of their thighs with a foam roller, from the knee to the pelvis, twice for a minute. The subjects rested for one minute between the sessions. After doing so the students performed the posture shown in the photo above, stretching as far as they could.
Results Two and ten minutes after the session the mobility of the joint [ROM] had increased by 10.6 and 8.8 percent respectively.
The researchers also measured the amount of force the subjects developed after the massage session, when they tried as hard as possible to lift the weight of a leg-extension machine, without actually being able to do so [MVCF]. The foam-roller treatment had no effect on the knee extension force.
More mobility generally means less strength, but the foam-roller treatment made the relationship less strong.
Conclusion "Although the results apply to static range of motion andisometric force production, which may or may not have application to dynamic movements, the results give supporting evidence to the potential benefits of employing a foam rolling program to increase joint range of motion before a physical activity that requires substantial force production", the Canadians conclude.
Source: J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Mar;27(3):812-21.
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