Amongst elite athletes self-massage such as triggering and foam rolling is becoming increasingly popular. Yet do these DYI jobs actually work?
Historically massage and soft tissue treatment is used to aid in recovery, which can decrease the time spent away from sport due to injury or fatigue. It is used as a means to improve sports performance without spending extra time loading up the body in training. This is achieved by improving the ranges of motion you need to make you more efficient and/ or put you in stronger positions to produce power. These are often known as ‘the One Percenters.’
So do you get these benefits if you do it yourself?
Simple answer - YES! ‘One percenters’ are those things that take minimal time and effort that make big differences to performance. Perfect example – self triggering and healthy choices at meal times. As one coach put it “When I talk to athletes about training and performance enhancement I tell them to look for easy gains. What small things can they be doing on their own that will improve performance?”
How does it work?
Self-massage techniques such as foam rolling, trigger balling are some of these ‘easy gains.’ A study was written in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy on Self Massage and whether or not it had the ability to improve a person’s ability to squat. For sports such as rowing, running or cycling improving your ability to squat can main you can improve your performance in your sport.
What was the study's outcome?
I won’t to get too in depth with the research, as I am keen to keep this blog short! However, to give you a brief overview they took a certain version of a deep squat and used in a type of assessment technique called Functional Movement Screening (FMS™). The experiment involved using a foam roller to the outside of your quad (upper thigh muscle), outside of the torso (lats muscles) and bottom of the foot for 30 second, 60 second, 90 second and 120 second increments and retesting the subject’s ability to squat.
The results showed that self-massage to any of these areas improved a person’s FMS squat performance, when techniques were applied for longer that 90 seconds. The research group was only small and there is still a lot more research that can be done in this field. Yet there is evidence to suggest that all that time (and pain!) spent foam rolling and triggering is beneficial for sports performance.
Take Home Messages:
Check out our Upper Body and Lower Body Self Treatment Guides for how you can use self massage to improve your own performance!