Context: Foam rolling has recently been used frequently to increase flexibility. However, its effects on proprioception, strength and motor performance are not well known. In addition, very few studies have examined the effects of foam rolling in the upper extremity.
Objective: To investigate the effects of foam rolling on elbow proprioception, strength, and functional motor performance in healthy individuals.
Design: Randomized controlled study.
Setting: Exercise laboratory of X Department, X University.
Patients or Other Participants: Sixty healthy participants (mean age=22.83±4.07 years).
Intervention(s): We randomly assigned participants into two groups: the foam rolling group (FRG) (4 weeks of foam rolling for the biceps brachii muscle) and control group (CG) (no foam rolling).
Main Outcome Measure(s): We evaluated proprioception (joint position sense [JPS] and force matching), biceps brachii muscle strength, and functional motor performance (modified pull-up test [MPUT], closed kinetic chain upper extremity stability test [CKCUEST], and push-up test) at the baseline, and at the end of the 4th week and 8th week.
Results: JPS at 45° elbow flexion, muscle strength, CKCUEST, and push-up test results improved after foam rolling and improvement was maintained at the follow-up (p<0.017). While the changes in groups for the results of proprioception and CKCUEST were similar among the three time points (p>0.05), there were significant improvements for the muscle strength from baseline to the second evaluation, and from baseline to the follow-up (p<0.001) in the FRG compared to the CG (p=0.004). The FRG was superior to the CG in the improvement of push-up test results among the three time points (p=0.040, p=0.001, p<0.001). Other data did not change (p>0.05).
Conclusion: Foam rolling is effective in improving elbow JPS in small flexion angles, biceps brachii strength, and some parameters of upper extremity functional motor performance. These effects are maintained 4 weeks after application.