P. Wolff, S. Rockwood, R. Jepsen, W. M. Silvers

Whitworth University, Spokane WA

Evidence to support the positive effects of static stretching (SS) on range of motion (ROM) is long withstanding. However, researchers have consistently found negative effects on performance after SS sessions. Recently, there has been increased interest in self-myofascial release (SMR) via foam rolling (FR). It appears that FR has the potential to improve ROM without eliciting a detrimental effect on force output and athletic performance. However, few studies have directly compared the effects of SS and FR on ROM and athletic performance. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of acute sessions of SS and FR on ankle dorsiflexion ROM and vertical jump (VJ) force output. METHODS: Fifteen healthy, recreationally active, college-aged males and females (nm = 3; nf = 12; age: 19-22 y; ht: 169.7 ± 10.7 cm; wt: 70.8 ± 15.9 kg) completed separate sessions of FR or SS, followed immediately by ROM and force output tests. Each gastrocnemius muscle-tendon group was stretched statically or rolled for three bouts of 30 s, with 30 s rest between sets. Goniometry was used to assess active, static ankle dorsiflexion ROM at baseline (CON) and post-SS/FR. A VJ test on a force plate was used to assess baseline and post-SS/FR force output. A repeated measures ANOVA (significance level p ≤ 0.05) was utilized to determine the existence of significant differences between experimental conditions for each dependent variable. RESULTS: No statistical difference was found in VJ performance between conditions (CON: 1530.4 ± 450.7 N, SS: 1537.5 ± 489.4 N, FR: 1524.5 ± 467.8 N; p = 0.830). For the right leg ROM measurements, there was no statistical difference between conditions (CON: 59.5 ± 7.8o, SS: 60.7 ± 8.7 o, FR: 59.9 ± 9.4 o; p = 0.748). However, for left leg ROM measurements there was a statistical difference between CON, SS and FR (CON: 57.6 ± 9.3o SS: 62.2 ± 8.3o, FR: 62.6 ± 8.0o; p = 0.013). CONCLUSIONS: Under the present research conditions, an acute session of SS or FR elicited no significant changes in VJ force output compared to CON. For the left ankle, FR and SS increased ROM compared to CON; however, this result was not observed bilaterally as in previous research. One possible explanation for the ROM differences between ankles was that left leg dominance of participants may have increased tightness of the muscle-tendon unit. Such tightness may have increased the susceptibility for change in left ankle ROM in response to FR and SS sessions. Future research should utilize larger samples, varied intervention times, and multiple sessions for further investigation of SS versus FR effects on joint ROM and athletic performance.

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