Acute effects of anterior thigh foam rolling on hip angle, knee angle, and rectus femoris length in the modified Thomas test
Background. Foam rolling has been shown to acutely increase range of motion (ROM) during knee flexion and hip flexion with the experimenter applying an external force, yet no study to date has measured hip extensibility as a result of foam rolling with controlled knee flexion and hip extension moments. The purpose of this study was to investigate the acute effects of foam rolling on hip extension, knee flexion, and rectus femoris length during the modified Thomas test.
Methods. Twenty-three healthy participants (male = 7; female = 16; age = 22 ± 3.3 years; height = 170 ± 9.18 cm; mass = 67.7 ± 14.9 kg) performed two, one-minute bouts of foam rolling applied to the anterior thigh. Hip extension and knee flexion were measured via motion capture before and after the foam rolling intervention, from which rectus femoris length was calculated.
Results. Although the increase in hip extension (change = +1.86° (+0.11, +3.61); z(22) = 2.08; p = 0.0372; Pearson’s r = 0.43 (0.02, 0.72)) was not due to chance alone, it cannot be said that the observed changes in knee flexion (change = −1.39° (−5.53, +2.75); t(22) = −0.70; p = 0.4933; Cohen’s d = − 0.15 (−0.58, 0.29)) or rectus femoris length (change = −0.005 (−0.013, +0.003); t(22) = −1.30; p = 0.2070; Cohen’s d = − 0.27 (−0.70, 0.16)) were not due to chance alone.
Conclusions. Although a small change in hip extension was observed, no changes in knee flexion or rectus femoris length were observed. From these data, it appears unlikely that foam rolling applied to the anterior thigh will improve passive hip extension and knee flexion ROM, especially if performed in combination with a dynamic stretching protocol.