What does Rolling actually do?
We all know that if you are really tight or super sore, rolling out the muscle hurts. Making the muscle hurt is kind of like how the muscle hurts when I lift, so rolling must be getting me stronger, right? Obviously the pain is not getting you stronger on its own, but does rolling out acually increase strength gains?
Greg Nuckols from MASS reviewed an article about the effects of myofascial release (rollers) on range of motion (ROM) and strength. They found that rolling out does not actually have any inherent impact on strength gains. However, rolling out does provide large increases in ROM, and theoretically if you can reach deeper ROM you can increase the activation of the muscle. They also pointed out that rolling still increases ROM even if you don’t feel pain in the muscle.
The takeaway is that you should not be rolling out with the idea that your squat is going to go up as a direct correlation. However, every sport out there requires you to reach some sort of deep ROM at some point in competition or training. Thus rolling out will certainly increase your performance, via mobility rather than strength directly. The other application of this information is that since rolling does not improve immediate strength, it does not need to be performed as a warm up. If you are tight, roll out, but don’t expect to see immediate strength gains. Mobility is a “marathon, not a sprint”.
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