A warm-up and stretching is widely accepted as a prerequisite to participation in athletics, strength training and aerobic training. The common thought to a warm-up and stretching is that it will increase performance and reduce the risk of injury (Hough, Ross & Howatson, 2009). Other common thoughts to performing a warm-up routine is to increase muscle and body temperature to increase nerve conduction velocity which in turn drives performance (Behm & Chaouchi, 2011). Many research articles have been published displaying the effects of various types of warm-ups and stretching. The two most common stretching types include static or dynamic stretching. It has been shown that performing a static stretching protocol prior to athletics is inferior to performing a dynamic warm-up routine (Behm & Chaouchi, 2011). A dynamic warm-up consists of a submaximal aerobic component as well as functional movements specific to the sport or activity and is traditionally used for athletes (Behm & Chaouchi, 2011). Studies have shown that a dynamic warm-up can improve power output and vertical jump height (Hough, Ross & Howatson, 2009).
More recently, a new type of stretching technique known as foam rolling has been increasing in popularity in athletics (Healy, Hatfield, Blanpied, Dorfman & Riebe, 2014). Foam rolling is performed by small undulated movements back and forth over a dense foam roller, using ones own bodyweight to provide friction causing a warming of the fascia (MacDonald et al, 2013). Foam rolling is thought to be used as a self-myofascial release technique to relieve soft tissue from an abnormal hold of tight fascia (Miller & Rockey, 2006). In addition, foam rolling is thought to restore optimal muscle length-tension relationships to improve force output thus enhancing the warm-up (Healy, Hatfield, Blanpied, Dorfman & Riebe, 2014). Many characteristics are also thought to overlap with the beneficial effects of massage. These include decreased tissue adhesion, decreased passive and active stiffness, decreased muscle excitability, decreased pain, increased range of motion and increased relaxation (Weerapong, Hume & Kolt, 2005). Massage has also been used prior to athletics as it displays psychological effects stimulating ones mood which may increase performance or training (Goodwin, Glaister, Howatson, Lockey & McInnes, 2007).
Although many benefits of foam rolling and massage have been found, there is inconclusive research regarding the efficacy of massage and foam rolling prior to performance. MacDonald et al. (2013) displays that an acute bout of self-myofascial release via a foam roller showed no major impact in muscle activation or force when compared to no stretching. Weerapong, Hume and Kolt (2005) show a decrease in muscle strength following massage. Despite the increasing popularity of the use of foam rollers, there is limited clinical data of efficacy of this warm-up on athletic performance (Healy, Hatfield, Blanpied, Dorfman &...