Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2021) 20, 665 - 671   DOI: https://doi.org/10.52082/jssm.2021.665

Research article
Sex Differences in the Mechanical and Neurophysiological Response to Roller Massage of the Plantar Flexors
Masatoshi Nakamura1,2, , Andreas Konrad3, Kiyono Ryosuke1, Shigeru Sato1, Kaoru Yahata1, Riku Yoshida2, Yuta Murakami2, Futaba Sanuki2, Jan Wilke4
Author Information
1 Institute for Human Movement and Medical Sciences, Niigata University of Health and Welfare, Niigata, Japan
2 Department of Physical Therapy, Niigata University of Health and Welfare, Niigata, Japan
3 Institute of Human Movement Science, Sport and Health, University of Graz, Mozartgasse 14, A-8010 Graz, Austria
4 Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany

Masatoshi Nakamura
✉ Institute for Human Movement and Medical Sciences, Niigata University of Health and Welfare, 1398 Shimami-cho, Kita-ku, Niigata City, Niigata, 950-3198, Japan
Email: masatoshi-nakamura@nuhw.ac.jp
Publish Date
Received: 26-06-2021
Accepted: 30-06-2021
Published (online): 01-10-2021
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ABSTRACT

Self-massage using foam rollers, sticks, or balls has become a popular technique to enhance joint range of motion (ROM). Although increases are reported to be larger in females than males, the mechanisms of this observation are unclear. The present study aimed to investigate the effect of roller massage (RM) on ROM, passive tissue stiffness, and neurophysiological markers as a function of sex. Males (n = 15, 22.8 ± 2.9 yrs.) and females (n = 14, 21.1 ± 0.7 yrs.) performed three 60-second bouts of calf RM. Outcomes assessed pre-, and post-intervention included passive dorsiflexion (DF) ROM, passive tissue stiffness, passive torque, DF angle at the first stretch sensation, shear elastic modulus, and spinal excitability. DF ROM (+35.9 %), passive torque at DF ROM (+46.4 %), DF angle at first stretch sensation (+32.9 %), and pain pressure threshold (+25.2 %) increased in both groups (p<.05) with no differences between males and females (p > 0.05). No changes were observed for passive stiffness, shear elastic modulus, and spinal excitability (p > 0.05). Roller massage may increase ROM independently of sex, which, in the present study, could not be ascribed to alterations in passive stiffness or neurophysiological markers. Future studies may further elucidate the role of sensory alterations as possible factors driving RM-induced changes in flexibility.

Key words: Shear elastic modulus, dorsiflexion range of motion, stretch tolerance, passive torque, pain pressure threshold, H/M ratio


           Key Points
  • We compared the effect of roller massage on range of motion, passive tissue stiffness, and neurophysiological markers as a function of sex.
  • Roller massage intervention could increase range of motion and change in sensory, but could not change the passive tissue stiffness, and neurophysiological markers in both males and females.
  • The increases in range of motion could only be related to changes in stretch perception (i.e., stretch tolerance) but not passive tissue stiffness, or spinal excitability.
 
 
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