The Benefits of SMR and Research Behind Rolling – Part 1: Quad and Knee-Joint ROM and NMR Efficiency During a Lunge

In a 4-part series, we’ll share some helpful studies that touch on the quantifiable benefits of SMR (Self Myofascial Release) and foam rolling. In the 1st study by Bradbury-Squires et al, they found that knee joint ROM increased 10% for the 20-second condition and 16% for the 60-second condition compared with a control condition.

Roller-Massager Application to the Quadriceps and Knee-Joint Range of Motion and Neuromuscular Efficiency During a Lunge

Journal of Athletic Training 2015 Feb; 50(2): 133–140

David J. Bradbury-Squires, MSc, Jennifer C. Noftall, BKin, Kathleen M. Sullivan, MSc, David G. Behm, PhD,Kevin E. Power, PhD, and Duane C. Button, PhD



Roller massagers are used as a recovery and rehabilitative tool to initiate muscle relaxation and improve range of motion (ROM) and muscular performance. However, research demonstrating such effects is lacking.


To determine the effects of applying a roller massager for 20 and 60 seconds on knee-joint ROM and dynamic muscular performance.


Randomized controlled clinical trial.


University laboratory.

Patients or Other Participants:

Ten recreationally active men (age = 26.6 ± 5.2 years, height = 175.3 ± 4.3 cm, mass = 84.4 ± 8.8 kg).


Participants performed 3 randomized experimental conditions separated by 24 to 48 hours. In condition 1 (5 repetitions of 20 seconds) and condition 2 (5 repetitions of 60 seconds), they applied a roller massager to the quadriceps muscles. Condition 3 served as a control condition in which participants sat quietly.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Visual analog pain scale, electromyography (EMG) of the vastus lateralis (VL) and biceps femoris during roller massage and lunge, and knee-joint ROM.


We found no differences in pain between the 20-second and 60-second roller-massager conditions. During 60 seconds of roller massage, pain was 13.5% (5.7 ± 0.70) and 20.6% (6.2 ± 0.70) greater at 40 seconds and 60 seconds, respectively, than at 20 seconds (P < .05). During roller massage, VL and biceps femoris root mean square (RMS) EMG was 8% and 7%, respectively, of RMS EMG recorded during maximal voluntary isometric contraction. Knee-joint ROM was 10% and 16% greater in the 20-second and 60-second roller-massager conditions, respectively, than the control condition (P < .05). Finally, average lunge VL RMS EMG decreased as roller-massage time increased (P < .05).


Roller massage was painful and induced muscle activity, but it increased knee-joint ROM and neuromuscular efficiency during a lunge.

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