Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2019

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42 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 9 There are several massage tools therapists and individuals can use for therapeutic effects similar to massage therapy. The foam roller is a familiar tool in my household used by me, my husband, my parents, and even my kids (although to be fair, my kids see it as more of a toy than a tool). Foam rolling is associated more with exercise and fitness than with massage therapy alone, but the connection between the two is obvious. Like the cyclical compression- loading approach discussed in the July/August 2018 Somatic Research column used in a rat research model, 1 foam rolling is a massage mimetic that applies repeated mechanical load to muscles and tissue to massage and stretch underlying tissues. Purported foam rolling benefits include those related to function, range of motion (ROM), and recovery improvement, in addition to pain and fatigue reduction. Quite a bit of research in the exercise science realm has focused on foam rolling with varying outcomes and almost all has been conducted in athletic or exercise populations, which limits the generalizability of the outcomes. Massage therapists work with people from all different populations, including those covering the full spectrum of functional ability, health, fitness, and age. When a majority of a particular type of research focuses primarily on a narrow population, it is easy for consumers or observers of that research to conclude a similarly narrow application or population of relevance. Although most foam rolling research has occurred in athletic or fitness populations, education SOMATIC RESEARCH Foam Rolling Research Demonstrates Increased ROM Without Detriment to Strength and Performance By Niki Munk, PhD findings from these studies can be extrapolated and used to inform massage practice for other populations. As a case in point, this column will focus on a recently published article in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and discuss its findings in relation to massage therapy practice application in broad populations. A collaborative endeavor between labs from Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom examined the extent to which varying levels of mechanical force in the form of rolling massage (RM) affected ROM and performance for young and healthy regular exercisers in the article "Higher Quadriceps Roller Massage Forces Do Not Amplify Range-of-Motion Increases nor Impair Strength and Jump Performance." 2 Previous research efforts indicated roller massage was beneficial for improving ROM, but concern existed about the potential masking impact of high mechanical forces on pain perception as well as optimal muscle function and recovery. To address this concern, these researchers used a study design seeking to understand the impact of different pressure levels (low, moderate, and high) when applying rolling massage. STUDY OVERVIEW Researchers used a randomized within subject, repeated measures experimental study design in an effort to identify the optimal rolling force to achieve the greatest ROM benefits without negatively impacting performance. Sixteen healthy people (eight men and eight women) who regularly exercise were recruited and enrolled in the study. Study participants were 22–37 years old, reported no experience with RM, and did either resistance or aerobic training for 20 or more minutes three times a week. There were three testing days for each participant. Each testing day involved the application of a standardized RM intervention. At least 48 hours and no more than four days was between each testing day, and RM depths

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