Comparison of vibration rolling, nonvibration rolling, and static stretching

Comparison of vibration rolling, nonvibration rolling, and static stretching as a warm-up exercise on flexibility, joint proprioception, muscle strength, and balance in young adults

Chia-Lun Lee, I-Hua Chu, Bo-Jhang Lyu, Wen-Dien Chang & Nai-Jen Chang

Journal of Sports Sciences, 2018


Warm-up is an essential component for optimizing performance before an exercise session. This study investigated that the immediate effects of vibration rolling (VR), non-vibration rolling (NVR), and static stretching as a part of a warm-up regimen on the flexibility, knee joint proprioception, muscle strength, and dynamic balance of the lower extremity in young adults. Compared with the pre-intervention, VR-induced range of motion of knee flexion and extension significantly increased by 2.5% and 6%, respectively, and isokinetic peak torque and dynamic balance for muscle strength and dynamic balance increased by 33%–35% and 1.5%, respectively.

In the three conditions, most outcomes between VR and NVR were comparable; however, the participants had a significantly higher knee joint reposition error after NVR than after VR, indicating that NVR would have a hampering knee joint proprioception effect.

In particular, compared with static stretching, VR significantly increased the quadriceps muscle strength by 2-fold and dynamic balance by 1.8-fold. These findings suggest that athletic professionals may take VR into account for designing more efficient and effective pre-performance routine to improve exercise performances. VR has high potential to translate into an on-field practical application.


Warm-up is an essential component for optimizing performance before an exercise session. Myofascial release is one type of warm-up regimen (Cheatham, Kolber, Cain, & Lee, 2015). Foam rolling exercise is used as a new tool for “self” myofascial release (SMR) (Cheatham, Kolber, & Cain, 2017; Cheatham & Stull, 2018). In this exercise, individuals use their own body mass to apply pressure on target soft tissues over a dense foam roller. The motions place both direct and sweeping pressure on the target soft tissue, stretching it and generating friction between it and the foam roller. Previous research proposed that the friction generated may result in restoration of the fascia to take on a more thixotropic property, splitting of fibrous adhesions between the layers of the fascia, and promotion of soft-tissue extensibility (Sefton, 2004).

Foam rolling, as a recovery strategy, increases joint range of motion (ROM), particularly after experiencing delayed-onset muscular soreness (Jay et al., 2014; Macdonald, Button, Drinkwater & Behm, 2014; MacDonald et al., 2013). However, foam rolling appears to have no beneficial effects on the maximum voluntary contraction force (MacDonald et al., 2013), isometric force (Healey, Hatfield, Blanpied, Dorfman & Riebe, 2014), and muscle strength (Su, Chang, Wu, Guo & Chu, 2016).

Vibration therapy may be an alternative method; it has been adopted to enhance flexibility (Houston, Hodson, Adams & Hoch, 2015), improve balance, (Tseng et al., 2016) and reduce postexercise delayed-onset muscle soreness (Bakhtiary, Safavi- Farokhi & Aminian-Far, 2007; Imtiyaz, Veqar, & Shareef, 2014).

Vibration results in mechanical oscillatory motion, which enhances reflex activity by stimulating the muscle spindle Ia to initiate a tonic vibratory reflex (Cardinale & Lim, 2003; Rehn, Lidstrom, Skoglund, & Lindstrom, 2007) and increases blood flow corresponding to intramuscular temperature (Kerschan- Schindl et al., 2001). Vibration can be applied to the whole body or locally. An acute whole-body vibration (WBV) more rapidly increased muscle temperature compared with the traditional methods of cycling and passive warm-up, corresponding to increased countermovement jump peak power and height; this finding indicates that vibration may be adopted as a warm-up strategy (Cochrane, Stannard, Sargeant, & Rittweger, 2008).

However, the application of WBV in the sideline sports is not practical. Furthermore, WBV has been associated with discomfort (Kiiski, Heinonen, Jarvinen, Kannus, & Sievanen, 2008; Rittweger, 2010). By contrast, local vibration techniques target a specific muscle group, potentially enhancing the immediate effects of an increase in muscle activity and metabolic response (Couto et al., 2013; Pamukoff, Ryan, & Blackburn, 2014).

Recently designed vibrating foam rollers have emerged from the designs of traditional therapeutic apparatus. The design of a vibrating foam roller is combined with SMR and a local vibration technique. A study showed that compared with a nonvibrating roller, a vibrating roller significantly increased pressure pain thresholds and knee joint motion of the quadriceps musculature (Cheatham, Stull, & Kolber, 2017).

The other study showed that foam roller was applied locally to muscle group with vibration exercises induced an increment in counter movement jump and sit-and-reach flexibility performance before and after both training sessions (Sağiroğlu, 2017). However, a few literatures on the use of vibration foam rolling are currently being investigated, particularly in warm-up exercises. Furthermore, no study has compared the effect of vibration rolling (VR) to nonvibration rolling (NVR) and static stretching on flexibility, joint proprioception and performance. Accordingly, this study investigated the immediate effects of VR, NVR, and static stretching during warm-up on the exercise performance of young adults. We hypothesized that VR would exert an SMR effect on targeted muscles of lower limbs and thus increase flexibility; concurrently, VR would exert positive effects on knee joint proprioception, maximal muscle strength, and balance as measured by the Y balance test (YBT) through facilitating vibration-induced neuromuscular activation (Cochrane, 2011).

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