Foam rolling and stretching do not provide superior acute flexibility and stiffness improvements compared to any other warm-up intervention: a systematic review with meta-analysis

Review written by Dr. Adam Loiacono info

Key Points

  1. Both stretching and foam rolling effectively improve range of motion (ROM) but are not significantly more effective than other warm-up methods.
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Several studies have documented a variety of different types of stretching to acutely improve flexibility when preparing for training or competition. However, static stretching has been shown to induce strength and power deficits. This highlights the need for alternative protocols to improve flexibility without adversely affecting performance.

This research systematically reviews the acute effects of stretching and foam rolling on flexibility and stiffness, comparing them with various warm-up interventions. Despite widespread belief in their superiority for improving range of motion (ROM) and reducing stiffness due to changes in pain threshold and musculotendinous properties, the study hypothesized that similar acute ROM enhancements could be induced by a broad range of interventions that increased muscle temperature (1, 2).

Static stretching has been shown to induce strength and power deficits.
These findings invite clinicians and trainers to consider a broader range of warm-up activities that increase muscle temperature for achieving immediate range of motion gains.


  • PRISMA guidelines were used for this systematic review and meta-analysis procedure.
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