Functional Training Institute

Foam Rolling Improves Superficial Back Line Range of Motion

Hello to everyone! In my last post, I mentioned that “nothing is certain in science” and I said this because very often, just when we think we agree on a specific set of research findings, another opposing finding will pop up.  The following results from this very recently published study highlight this point.  A group of Korean researchers evaluated the immediate effects of foam-rolling as a form of self-myofascial release (SMR) on the plantar fascia, by rolling on the muscle groups of the superficial back line (Hamstrings and Erector Spinae).  To evaluate the effects of foam rolling, the researchers measured superficial back line range of motion through a standing toe touch test and a passive straight leg raise test. Of the 36 younger, healthy male and female participants, one group was assigned to the foam rolling intervention, while the other (control group) received passive joint mobilizations of the ankle joint. The foam rolling group rolled from the heel to the metatarsal heads continuously, for 5 minutes.  Following, this treatment both groups then revaluated their range of motion using the same tests.  The researchers noted a significant improvement in both the toe touch and passive straight leg raise range of motion in the foam rolling group, but NOT the control group who received passive ankle joint mobilizations.

The Bottom Line:

Unlike the previous research review which evaluated the effectiveness of foam rolling on hamstring flexibility, by performing foam rolling on the hamstrings individually. These researchers have set out also to investigate the Thomas Myer Anatomy Trains theory somewhat by looking at the effect of SMR on the continuity of these myofascial lines, rather than just one isolated muscle.  If these findings can be replicated in future research, with the same measures of range of motion, there may well be a very compelling case for the use of SMR as a treatment to restore optimal function to myofascial lines. However, we must be mindful that the current findings only apply to healthy (no current injuries in this case) younger males and females

Challenge Question: What other functional movement assessments could these researchers included if we wanted to see a more functional effect on movement quality?


Kwangsun Do et al. (2018). Acute effect of self-myofascial release using a foam roller on the plantar fascia on hamstring and lumbar spine superficial back line flexibility.  PTRS 7(1): 35-40.

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