By: Clint Russell, DPT
What is Voodoo floss? I’m sure you’ve see people wrapping their elbows or knees and wondered why. How is that supposed to help? I’m going to give you a little more information on these bands and what exactly they do to hopefully help you understand what is going on from a physiological standpoint. There are also some video demos at the bottom.
Voodoo floss refers to using elastic bands for wrapping around problem areas to create change. This has been around in the powerlifting world for many years and has been popularized by Kelly Starrett of Mobility WOD. They are widely used by CrossFitters, olympic lifters, gymnasts, and powerlifters. However they are not widely understood.
There are 4 proposed effects of flossing:
- Fascial Shear
- Occlusive Hyperemia
- Temporary Joint Centration
- Pain Gaiting
Fascial Shear: The body has layers of fascia that are supposed to move upon one another. These adhere to each other and become restricted. If we add compression, and then force motion, it will break up the myofascial restrictions. This will then allow the layers to move more freely, resulting in increased range of motion. Research mentions using passive or active range of motion with the bands to create change. I have had much better results both for myself and others, with active movement while using compression with the bands.
Occlusive Hyperemia: When the band is wrapped around an area, blood flow is partially occluded. When the tissue goes through active range of motion, a pressure gradient is created and blood is pushed out of the area. When the band is taken off new blood rushes in to the tissue. This is proposed to cause one or both of these benefits:
- flushing out waste products
- quickly supply new nutrients and hormones to the area
- help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle soreness
A study was performed regarding the effects of compression band treatment on muscle recovery after an eccentric fatiguing exercise. One group used floss on their quads post leg exercises. Two days post recovery, according to peak torque, the banded subjects were able to produce more power than the non-banded subjects.
Temporary Joint Centration: By compressing the joint down and adding movement, the joint is approximated in a better position. This reinforces a better pattern of joint movement. When a band is placed around a joint and the joint is forced to bend it creates a fulcrum at the axis of motion, causing a gapping effect within the joint space.
Pain Gaiting: When applied tightly, it causes a stretching sensation on the skin, which can be a bit painful. This can override the body’s pain signal for the joint that is wrapped, allowing more freedom of movement.
Harrison, Roehl, Skog et el al. The Effects of Compression Band Treatment on Muscle Recovery after Eccentric Fatiguing Exercise. University of Wisconsin 2014. https://minds.wisconsin.edu/handle/1793/71051
Kochoa, Paul DPT, Using a Voodoo Band to Restore Motion. Professional Physical Therapy &Training LLC. 2017. http://www.professionalptandtraining.com/general-health-information/using-a-voodoo-band-to-restore-motion/
Stevens Benjamin D.C. Voodoo Floss: How Does it work? Valeo Health Clinic 2014. http://valeohealthclinic.com/voodoo-floss-really-voodoo/