foam rolling massage

The Effect of Foam Roller Massage on Pressure Pain Threshold

Roller Massage

foam roller massageSelf-myofascial release using a foam roller, also called foam roller massage, or simply roller massage, is quite popular nowadays among athletes and being recommended to patients by many health rehabilitation professionals. Rehabilitation professionals also often prescribe foam rolling as an intervention to augment other manual therapies or as a warm-up before an athletic activity, or as a recovery after athletic activity.

Pressure Pain Threshold

Pressure Pain Threshold (PPT) is a term used to describe the minimal pressure necessary to cause pain. As its name implies, it is used as a measure of someone’s pain threshold in response to pressure, in other words, their sensitivity.

Survey

A recent survey among allied health professionals in the United States found that 82% of respondents believe that roller massage decreases pain and 76% believe that it increases mobility. A high percentage of health professionals use a foam roller in their practice (81%), recommend a full-size foam roller (49%), and believe the medium density (48%) is the most effective.

foam rolling massageA high proportion of respondents prescribe roller massage for injury treatment (69%), both pre-exercise and post-exercise (61%). They also recommend rolling daily for 30 seconds to 2 minutes per muscle group (33%) at a self-paced cadence (46%). A high percentage of respondents use patient-reported outcomes (74%), joint ROM (49%), and movement-based testing (48%) to measure the effectiveness of roller massage.

Did you know that Digital COMT (Digital Clinical Orthopedic Manual Therapy), Dr. Joe Muscolino’s video streaming subscription service for manual and movement therapists, has an entire folder with video lessons on Soft Tissue Manipulation (Massage) and an entire folder on Fitness Training? Digital COMT adds seven new video lessons each and every week. And nothing ever goes away! Click here for more information.

Study

A study examined the immediate effects of a foam rolling intervention upon pressure pain threshold among men and women on the muscle being rolled, its antagonist on the same side of the body, and the same muscle contralaterally (on the other side of the body).

Twenty healthy adults (M = 10, F = 10; mean age = 27.4 ± 8.5 years) participated in a pre-test, post-test observational study. The participants conduced a video-guided foam rolling treatment on the left quadriceps muscle group. The pressure pain threshold was then measured for the left quadriceps group, the left hamstrings group, and the right quadriceps group.

Results

Both men and women showed a statistically significant effect upon time of pressure pain threshold for the left quadriceps, left hamstring, and right quadriceps groups.

These findings suggest that foam rolling can immediately reduce pressure pain threshold in the muscle being rolled, its antagonist, and the same muscle contralateral, in both men and women.

Comment by Joseph Muscolino

This is yet another study that shows the benefits of manual therapy soft tissue manipulation. Using a foam roller for soft tissue manipulation is essentially massage therapy. The only difference is that with foam rolling massage, the tool used is the foam roller. Whereas, with what is thought of as massage therapy, the “tool” is usually a part of the therapist’s body, most often the therapist’s hand, forearm, elbow, or perhaps foot; although some massage therapist’s employ the use of physical tools other than their body to contact the client’s body (e.g., hot stones, T-bar, etc.). Regardless, this study shows the benefit of manual therapy for the myofascial tissues of the body!

On a note of terminology… Given the power of words, I must admit that I like the use of the term “roller massage” in place of what is often called “foam rolling” because it acknowledges that foam rolling is massage. 🙂

This blog post article was created in collaboration with www.terrarosa.com.au.

(Click here for the blog post article: Foam Rolling the Posterior Leg Decreases Spinal Excitability of the Soleus.)

Did you know that Digital COMT (Digital Clinical Orthopedic Manual Therapy), Dr. Joe Muscolino’s video streaming subscription service for manual and movement therapists, has an entire folder with video lessons on Soft Tissue Manipulation (Massage) and an entire folder on Fitness Training? Digital COMT adds seven new video lessons each and every week. And nothing ever goes away! Click here for more information.

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