Traditional foam rollers have become widespread in the fitness setting. Recently, some manufacturers have added vibration technology to their products. Does the added element provide any extra benefit? Researchers from California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California, the National Academy of Sports Medicine in Chandler, Arizona, and Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, wanted to find out.
The researchers assigned 45 recreationally active adults to one of three groups: vibrating roller, nonvibrating roller or no foam roller (the control group). The study’s primary purpose was to determine whether either tool could improve knee-joint range of motion and pain tolerance.
Those in the foam-rolling groups performed a 2-minute foam-rolling protocol on their quadriceps—rolling through a specific area four times—and then did 4 knee bends. The control group lay still for 2 minutes before doing the knee bends. Range of motion and pain tolerance were tested before and after each intervention.
Those using the vibrating roller experienced the greatest improvement in knee range of motion. The vibrating foam roller also produced significantly greater pain tolerance than either the nonvibrating roller or no roller.
IDEA presenter Kyle Stull, DHSc, senior manager of research and program design for Implus® LLC, and one of the study’s researchers, explained that this study could be important in encouraging more people to use a foam roller.
“Foam rolling is uncomfortable, and many people will roll as little as possible because it hurts,” he says. “On a vibrating foam roller, there is less discomfort, meaning individuals will roll longer. A recent study found that those who roll for at least 120 seconds will get better results than those who roll for less time. Therefore, if rolling isn’t as painful, clients will roll for longer and get better results.”
The study was published in the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation (2017; https://doi.org/10.1123/jsr.2017-0164).
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