Foam Rolling of Quadriceps Decreases Biceps Femoris Activation

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Cavanaugh, MT, Aboodarda, SJ, Hodgson, DD, and Behm, DG. Foam rolling of quadriceps decreases biceps femoris activation. J Strength Cond Res 31(8): 2238–2245, 2017—Foam rolling has been shown to increase range of motion without subsequent performance impairments of the rolled muscle, however, there are no studies examining rolling effects on antagonist muscles. The objective of this study was to determine whether foam rolling the hamstrings and/or quadriceps would affect hamstrings and quadriceps activation in men and women. Recreationally, active men (n = 10, 25 ± 4.6 years, 180.1 ± 4.4 cm, 86.5 ± 15.7 kg) and women (n = 8, 21.75 ± 3.2 years, 166.4 ± 8.8 cm, 58.9 ± 7.9 kg) had surface electromyographic activity analyzed in the dominant vastus lateralis (VL), vastus medialis (VM), and biceps femoris (BF) muscles on a single leg landing from a hurdle jump under 4 conditions. Conditions included rolling of the hamstrings, quadriceps, both muscle groups, and a control session. Biceps femoris activation significantly decreased after quadriceps foam rolling (F(1,16) = 7.45, p = 0.015, −8.9%). There were no significant changes in quadriceps activation after hamstrings foam rolling. This might be attributed to the significantly greater levels of perceived pain with quadriceps rolling applications (F(1,18) = 39.067, p < 0.001, 98.2%). There were no sex-based changes in activation after foam rolling for VL (F(6,30) = 1.31, p = 0.283), VM (F(6,30) = 1.203, p = 0.332), or BF (F(6,36) = 1.703, p = 0.199). Antagonist muscle activation may be altered after agonist foam rolling, however, it can be suggested that any changes in activation are likely a result of reciprocal inhibition due to increased agonist pain perception.

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