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Is Fascia Training Effective for Myalgia and Flexibility?Science is not so certain


NS Ken Nosaka

Many physically active people suffer from “delayed onset muscle soreness” or muscle soreness known as DOMS after exercise.

Fascia training has emerged as a common means of relieving delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle stiffness.

You may find foam rollers in any gym, or you may have it yourself, and many people swear to use them before and after exercise.

But what does science say? Is fascia training really effective in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness and increasing flexibility?

Unfortunately, scientific research often does not always support anecdotal evidence.

This seems to be the case with fascia training. Evidence does not strongly support the use of foam rollers — although some studies have shown small benefits.

Foam rolling is a type of self-massage that typically uses a cylindrical foam roller.

They were first used in the 1980s and are now commonly used in warm-up and / or cool-down exercises.

Proponents say that fascia training can reduce muscle soreness and increase flexibility (also known as range of motion).

However, the mechanism underlying these claims is not well known.

Foam rollers and other similar devices are claimed to release the tension in the “fascia”.

The fascia is the thin connective tissue that surrounds our muscles. It prevents friction between tissues and transfers the force generated by muscle fibers to the bone.

The fascia can be sticky and tight due to sedentary lifestyles, repetitive movements that overuse parts of the body, injuries, or surgery. Tightening of the fascia can reduce flexibility.

My research team and myself at Edith Cowan University investigated the role of fascia in delayed onset muscle soreness.

Participants in our study performed 10 sets of 6 biceps curls and developed a very painful arm the next day.

Their muscle pain was assessed one, two, and four days after exercise.

They also evaluated their pain using an “electrical stimulator” and quantified the fascia and muscle susceptibility of the biceps brachii to electrical current.

The fascia surrounding the muscle has been found to be more sensitive to electrical stimuli than the muscle itself.

Scientists believe that small crevices in muscle fibers are the cause of delayed onset muscle soreness. However, our study suggests that fascial damage or inflammation is more associated with delayed onset muscle soreness than damage to muscle fibers.

Fascia training claims to stretch the fascia, which can reduce such pain and inflammation.

Evidence is still emerging, but there are some studies on fascia training.

A systematic review of fascia training based on 49 studies concluded that fascia training reduced muscle stiffness and pain and increased range of motion. However, the authors state that it should be used in combination with dynamic stretching and pre-exercise active warm-up.

Another study investigated whether fascia training was effective in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness and promoting muscle recovery. Participants trained twice at 4-week intervals, each containing 10 sets of back squats.

Second, one group used foam rollers for 20 minutes immediately 24 and 48 hours after exercise, while another group did not use foam rollers at all. Fascia training was moderately effective in reducing delayed onset muscle soreness.

However, another recent review, including a meta-analysis of 21 studies on fascia (combining the results of multiple scientific studies), concluded that fascia training has a very small effect on performance and recovery. .. Fascia training should be used as a warm-up activity, not a recovery tool.

The article also found that pre-exercise fascia training increased flexibility by only 4%. Post-exercise rolling also reduced the perception of myalgia by 6%.

However, statistical significance does not necessarily reflect practical significance. Most people may not notice much about a 4% increase in flexibility and a 6% reduction in pain.

Studies have also shown that fascia training increases range of motion, but only for about 20 minutes.

Therefore, the impact of fascia training on flexibility does not seem to be significant, and the long-term impact is not decisive.

One of the problems in this area of ​​study was the variety of rolling protocols used in the study, and no clear consensus on the ideal number of sets, duration, rolling frequency, or intensity.

Interestingly, the magnitude of the impact on range of motion after fascia rolling is similar to that of stretching.

Therefore, if your goal is to increase your range of motion, you can consider both stretching and fascia training as a good warm-up routine. Previous studies have not clearly shown that fascia training was more effective than other interventions to improve pre-exercise flexibility.

However, while fascia training is generally considered safe, if you are seriously injured, such as a muscle injury, avoid fascia training unless your doctor or physiotherapist cleans you up first. It is recommended.

Ken Nosaka is a professor of exercise and sports science at Edith Cowan University in Australia.

This article will be republished from conversation Under a Creative Commons Original work..

Is Fascia Training Effective for Myalgia and Flexibility?Science is not so certain Is Fascia Training Effective for Myalgia and Flexibility?Science is not so certain

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