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Int J Med Sci. 2020 Jan 1;17(1):71-81. doi: 10.7150/ijms.37981. eCollection 2020.

Protective Effects of Foam Rolling against Inflammation and Notexin Induced Muscle Damage in Rats.

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Faculty of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, Universidad Católica de Valencia San Vicente Mártir, Valencia, Spain.
Department of Education, Universidad Internacional de Valencia, Valencia, Spain.
Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain.
Faculty of Nursing, Universidad Católica de Valencia San Vicente Mártir, Valencia, Spain.
Departament of Physiotherapy, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain.


It is known that high-intensity exercise can cause inflammation and damage in muscle tissue, and in recent years, physical therapists and fitness professionals have begun to use foam rolling as a recovery method to improve performance. Despite the lack of basic science studies to support or refute the efficacy of foam rolling, the technique is very widely used in the sports world. In this respect, we investigated whether foam rolling could attenuate muscle damage and inflammation. Female Wistar rats were assigned to control (C), foam rolling (FR), notexin without foam rolling (N) and notexin with foam rolling (NFR) groups. A 4.5 x 2 cm foam roller was used to massage their hind legs (two 60-second repetitions twice a day for 3 days). Motor function tests (Balance Beam Test and Grip strength) were used. We detected an increase in time and foot faults when crossing a beam in the N group compared to C and FR rats. In contrast, a significant decrease was detected in both tests in NFR compared to N rats. Muscle power was measured with a grip strength test and better performance was detected in NFR rats compared to N rats. Furthermore, an increase of pro-inflammatory proteins was noted in the N group, while there was a decrease in the NFR group. On the contrary, an increase in PPAR-γ (anti-inflammatory protein) in the NFR group compared to the N group demonstrates the anti-inflammatory properties of the foam rolling technique. In summary, applying foam rolling after damage has benefits such as an increase in anti-inflammatory proteins and a reduction of pro-inflammatory proteins, resulting in muscle recovery and better performance.


cell death; foam rolling; inflammation; muscle recovery; performance

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interest exists.

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