BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
Foam rolling is a self-massage technique often used as part of a warm-up in an effort to increase range of motion (ROM) and sometimes decrease pain. One mechanism through which the increased ROM is thought to occur is decreased “fascial adhesions.” The iliotibial (IT) band is a thick fascial tissue that originates at the pelvis and inserts on the tibia. Foam rolling the IT band is often recommended as an adjunct treatment for various hip and knee pathologies. However, the degree to which foam rolling the IT band – a passive, non-contractile tissue – can actually increase hip ROM is debatable. The purpose of this study was to compare the acute effects of foam rolling the IT band versus the gluteal muscles (active, contractile tissue) on passive hip adduction ROM.
26 healthy university-aged adults (14 females, 12 males) attended three testing sessions one week apart in random order. Each session consisted of a five-minute cycling warm-up followed by two measurements of passive hip adduction ROM separated by three minutes. ROM was measured using the Ober test and a digital inclinometer (thigh angle from horizontal). During the three minutes between measurements, the participants either sat in a chair (control); foam rolled their IT band; or foam rolled their gluteal muscles. Participants foam rolled for three sets of 30 seconds at a standardized metronome tempo of 30 rolls/minute with 30 seconds rest between sets. ROM data were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance.
There was no significant difference in pre-test ROM across conditions. Post-test ROM was significantly greater in the gluteal muscle foam rolling condition than the control and IT band foam rolling conditions.