Background: Reduced ankle dorsiflexion is associated with lower limb injury and dysfunction, with static stretching mostly used to increase ankle range of motion. Foam rolling is an alternative intervention, shown to immediately increase ankle range of motion, while the long-term application has conflicting evidence.
Aims: To assess the effects of single and multiple foam rolling interventions on ankle dorsiflexion range of motion in healthy adults and appraise the methodological quality of the included studies.
Design: Systematic literature review.
Methods: Five electronic databases were systematically searched to identify randomised controlled trials reporting the effects of foam rolling on ankle dorsiflexion. Data was extracted from studies that met the inclusion criteria and independently appraised by each reviewer using the PEDro scale.
Results: Thirty-two articles were identified; six studies included foam rolling compared to other interventions on ankle dorsiflexion range of motion. Five of the six studies reported a significant increase (p < 0.05) in ankle dorsiflexion within groups compared to baseline measurements, after a single foam rolling intervention. One study found a significant within group increase in long-term effects after foam rolling on ankle dorsiflexion over seven weeks. The mean PEDro score for all studies was 6/10 indicating a high-quality level of evidence. Conclusion: There is strong evidence suggesting that foam rolling may be effective in increasing range of motion in a healthy adult population in the short term up to 30 min; however, definitive conclusions on long-term effects cannot be drawn due to a lack of evidence, with further research recommended.
Grieve, R., Byrne, B., Clements, C., Davies, L. J., Durrant, E., & Kitchen, O. (2022). The effects of foam rolling on ankle dorsiflexion range of motion in healthy adults: A systematic literature review. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 30, 53-59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2022.01.006