The comparison of Sports Massage and Self-Myofascial Release on hamstring flexibility of male athletes
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Flexibility is one of the critical key factors that contribute to successful athletic performance and the use of sports massage and self myofascial release (foam rollers) as modalities for improving flexibility and thus aiding physical performance has been well established and practiced within sport. Despite this, scientific evidence on the effectiveness of these treatments is controversial and literature on the comparison of their effects on flexibility has not been reported. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of sports massage and self-myofascial release on hamstring flexibility of male athletes. Eight (n = 8) physically active, male team players studying sport at Cardiff Metropolitan University, with a finger-ground distance greater than 0cm, volunteered to participate within this study. Participants were randomly assigned into two groups of 4, where each group engaged in one of two interventions for a period of three days, a sports massage and a foam rolling intervention. After a washout period of 7 days, the groups engaged in the alternative intervention. Prior to and following each intervention period, measures of hamstring flexibility were obtained using the sit and reach test, back saver sit and reach test and the active knee extension test. The sports massage intervention involved a 20 minute controlled, manual massage to the hamstrings and the foam rolling intervention comprised of 20 minutes of controlled, self-delivered, hamstring foam rolling. A one way repeated measures ANOVA was used to identify significant differences between pre and post hamstring flexibility measurements whilst a paired samples t-test was conducted to reveal any differences between the effects of the interventions. Analysis of the main study data demonstrated that the sports massage intervention had no significant effect on hamstring flexibility (p > 0.05) whereas the foam rolling intervention had a significant effect on the performance in the active knee extension test (p < 0.05). No significant differences were found between the effects of sports massage and foam rolling on hamstring flexibility. The present findings indicate that a 20 minute hamstring sports massage is an ineffective modality for increasing hamstring flexibility, whereas a 20 minute application of foam rolling to the hamstring muscle group is effective in improving hamstring flexibility measured through the active knee extension test. Further research is required to validate the physiological benefits of sports massage, support the findings in relation to foam rolling and evaluate differences between the two modalities.
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