Original Research

Roller massager improves range of motion of plantar flexor muscles without subsequent decreases in force parameters

Authors:  Halperin I,  Aboodarda SJ,  Button DC,  Andersen LL, Behm DG

Limited dorsiflexion range of motion (ROM) has been linked to lower limb injuries. Improving limited ankle ROM may decrease injury rates. Static stretching (SS) is commonly used to attempt to improve ROM but can lead to decreases in force and power if performed prior to activity. Thus, alternatives to improve ROM without performance decrements are needed. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare the effects of SS and self-massage (SM) (with a roller massager) of the calf muscles on ankle ROM, maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) force F100 (force produced in the first 100 ms of the MVC), and electromyography (of the soleus and the tibialis anterior) characteristics of the plantar flexors, and a single limb balance test. Both interventions improved ankle ROM, but only the SM led to small improvements in MVC force relative to SS at 10 min. post-intervention. These results highlight the effectiveness of a roller massager relative to SS. These results could affect the type of warm-up utilized prior to activities that depend on high force and sufficient ankle ROM. 

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