MacDonald GZ, Penney MD, Mullaley ME, et al (2013) An acute bout of self-myofascial release increases range of motion without a subsequent decrease in muscle activation or force. J Strength Cond Res 27(3):812–821.
Sullivan KM, Silvey DB, Button DC, et al (2012) Roller-massage application to the hamstrings increases sit-and-reach range of motion within five to ten seconds without performance impairments. Int J Sports Phys Ther 8(3):228-236.
Self-myofascial release can be performed with a myriad of tools and objects. Athletes and lifters may use foam rollers, PVC pipes, medicine balls, tennis balls, lacrosse balls, and golf balls. Things to consider when choosing an object to use for SMFR: the surface area, the density, and the amount of contact the body is making with the ground during the movement. Smaller objects are typically suggested for smaller muscles and where muscles converge at a joint. It is advisable that “tighter” athletes and lifters perform SMFR prior to their workout to improve range of motion as the aforementioned research suggested.
Static Stretch to Recover
While static stretching held for longer durations (<60 seconds) prior to competition has been implicated in reducing performance (1), it may accelerate recovery between training sessions. When a muscle contracts, it tightens. Repeated contractions may cause tighter muscles which can alter joint movement. Static stretching can potentially aid in recovery as stretches works to restore muscles back to their natural resting lengths.
Kay AD, Blazevich AJ (2012) Effect of acute static stretching on maximal muscle performance: a systematic review. Med Sci Sports Exerc 44(1):154-164.
It is suggested that stretching follows training sessions and is not performed via long durations. For those looking to gain a restorative benefit, it is advisable that stretches be performed following self-myofascial release between training sessions.
A recent study involving rugby players revealed players who took ice baths and contrast baths, outperformed the control group and were able to recover more quickly between matches (1). Another recent study, which involved tennis players, demonstrated that protocols comprising of ice baths may improve lower-body power while reducing soreness (2).
1. Higgins T, Cameron M, Climstein M (2012) Evaluation of passive recovery, cold water immersion, and contrast baths for recovery, as measured by game performances markers, between two simulated games of rugby union. J Strength Cond Res [Epub ahead of print]
2. Duffield R, Murphy A, Kellett A (2012) Recovery from repeated on-court tennis sessions: Combining cold water immersion, compression and sleep recovery interventions. Int J Sports Physiol Perform [Epub ahead of print]]]>