November 2016

Foam rolling outperforms stretching for quadriceps, hamstring flexibility

In the moment: Rehabilitation

By Jordana Bieze Foster

Foam rolling is associated with greater acute improvement in quadriceps and hamstrings flexibility compared with static or dynamic stretching, according to research from Taiwan.

In 30 college students (15 women), investigators from Kaohsiung Medical University assessed quadriceps and hamstrings flexibility, along with isokinetic peak torque during knee flexion and extension, before and after three warm-up interventions: foam rolling, static stretching, and dynamic stretching. All participants performed all three interventions on three days, in random order, with 48 to 72 hours between test sessions.

Compared with baseline, improvement in flexibility was significantly greater after foam rolling than after either of the two stretching interventions. Foam rolling and dynamic stretching were both associated with significant improvements in knee extension peak torque; none of the interventions were associated with significant changes in knee flexion strength.

The findings, epublished in October by the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, support the use of foam rolling as part of a warm-up to improve flexibility without adversely affecting strength, the authors concluded.


Su H, Chang N-J, Wu W-L, et al. Acute effects of foam rolling, static stretching, and dynamic stretching during warm-ups on muscular flexibility and strength in young adults. J Sport Rehabil 2016 Oct 13. [Epub ahead of print]

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