Is SMR (Foam Rolling) Beneficial For Rehabilitation In Swimmers?

Is SMR (Foam Rolling) Beneficial For Rehabilitation In Swimmers?

Dr. GJohn Mullen Dr. John Mullen, Injuries, Latest&Greatest Leave a Comment

Background Self-Myofascial Release (Foam Rolling)

Fascia restrictions often occur in response to an injury, causing fascial tissue to lose elasticity and become dehydrated. This can cause fibrous adhesions and tightness, potentially leading to pain and decrease in soft-tissue extensibility.

Self-myofascial release (SMR) techniques (foam rolling and tennis balls) are common in every gym or swim setting. These tools are believed to improve muscle flexibility and injury. Despite common use, their validity is uncertain.

This study looked to determine if an acute bout of SMR via a high-pressure foam roller affects volitional and evoked muscle force, and it sees if foam rolling improve knee joint ROM

What was done

Eleven healthy male subjects participated in maximal quadriceps contraction, evoked force and activation, and knee joint range of motion were measured two minutes and 10 minutes following two conditions: 1) two, one-minute trials of SMR of the quadriceps via a foam roll and 2) no SMR.


The SMR had an improved of 10 and 8% at 2 and 10 minutes. Force production and strength did not decrease following SMR.


An acute bout of SMR of the quadriceps was an effective treatment to acutely enhance knee joint range of motion without a concomitant deficit in muscle.

Practical Implication

This study SMR via foam rolling performs ROM directly after a short bout. Future research is required to find if this is possible at different muscle groups, the most effective dose and if long-term benefits occur. Once this is determined, then more precise mechanisms and combinations with other forms of treatment are necessary to determine if SMR is effective for injury prevention and rehabilitation.


  1. Macdonald G, Penney M, Mullaley M, Cuconato A, Drake C, Behm DG, Button DC. An Acute Bout of Self Myofascial Release Increases Range of Motion Without a Subsequent Decrease in Muscle Activation or Force. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 May 10.

Originally Posted June 2012

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