Foam rollers aren’t anything new. Cyclists up and down the country have been using them for years, as have practitioners such as chiropractors, masseurs and physiotherapists.

But the effectiveness of a foam-rolling recovery session is still somewhat unknown, that is until now.

The study, which was published this January in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal, examined the effectiveness of foam-rolling as a recovery tool, after exercise-induced muscle damage. They analysed thigh girth, muscle soreness, range of motion (ROM), contractile properties, perceived pain and force places, on the foam roller.

The study split 20 participants into a number of groups to perform a variety of back squat exercise sessions. Only one group performed a 20-minute foam roller exercise session at the end of each test.

The main finding from the study showed the foam rollers substantially reduced muscle soreness at all time points, while substantially improving ROM. However, they negatively affected involuntary muscle contractions.

The study found that foam rollers were beneficial in easing muscle soreness, while improving muscle activation and passive and dynamic ROM when compared throughout the control group.

The rollers negatively affected several involuntary contractile properties of the muscle, but had a positive effect on relaxed muscles, indicating that rollers benefits are primarily accrued through neural responses and connective tissue.

If this study is anything to go by, foam rollers are worth the investment. They are very affordable; just make sure you choose the right one as there are different shapes and sizes, all of which have different effects on the body. It’s also worth spending some time finding out how to use them safely and effectively.

This article was first published in the January 16 issue of Cycling Weekly.

  • Dan Rees

    Well that depends on the results, which we aren’t privy to in this article. If you tossed a coin 20 times and it came up heads every time, would you still say that you can’t conclude anything given the small same size?

  • David Hewett

    Can’t really conclude anything from this study, the results are virtually meaningless with a sample size of 20.