If you’re in the gym long enough you’re going to either see A) someone voodoo flossing or B) a big thick rubber resistance band that is stuffed in the corner collecting dust. If you see someone using the band, hopefully correctly, you’ll see them wrapping it around themselves (or having someone wrap it around a body part of theirs, think a bicep or calf, you weirdo), constricting their muscle fascia like a boa would. Let’s get into the details about voodoo flossing, what it is, why people do it, and what the protocol for voodoo flossing is so that you can take advantage of this very beneficial ischemic compression technique.
What Is Voodoo Flossing
Voodoo flossing is a compression therapy technique seen most often in physical therapy offices and in gyms with trainers or athletes looking to release tension, soreness, or range of motion in a particular muscle group or joint. [R] By mobilizing soft tissue with the application of a long rubber band (a lot like a resistance band, but it is not a closed loop), an individual is able to constrict blood flow. This happens via the compression for a short amount of time (think :30 - 2 minutes) replenishing the area with oxygen, nutrients, and blood flow once the band is removed. Voodoo flossing, aka muscle flossing, is not meant to be used during activity or a game, and is only meant to be used as a warmup, cooldown, or recovery technique.
Who Is Voodoo Flossing Good For
Technically, anyone with a body can voodoo floss, but just like anything else, there are specific people and uses that are better candidates for taking full advantage of voodoo flossing benefits. If you’re an athlete or active individual looking to add a little something extra to your warmup or recovery routine (stretching, what’s that?) then having a Rogue voodoo floss band could be beneficial for you. If you’re super sore, or know you’re going to be post workout, this might be a good time to rush new, oxygenated and nutrient rich blood into an area you just exhausted.
Benefits Of Voodoo Flossing
Full transparency here, but the benefits of voodoo flossing being proven in the clinical or scientific research category is limited and inconclusive. First off, there haven’t been many studies done with voodoo bands, and the research that has, isn’t very supported. That being said, does it mean that you should toss that Rogue voodoo floss band in the trash? Not so much. If you feel like it helps you and it is something that you can perform and implement safely, then do it. Let’s check out some of the benefits we’ve seen from voodoo flossing
1. Compression Therapy
You can perform compression therapy by pinching the muscle facia of a sore area or you can use a voodoo band to do the same thing with (usually) much better results, especially in areas that are hard to stretch or release (like your elbow or ankle).
2. Repair Muscle Fibers
Muscle fibers and muscle facia work best when the striations (lines on the muscle fibers) are straight and can move smoothly. Similar to the way that flossing works for your teeth, nerve flossing and voodoo flossing do the same thing - they clean out the lactic acid, toxins, and micro waste particles stuck in the muscle that are a by product of micro tears. In doing so, the muscle body is able to glide well when contracted and relaxed, so that you can move better, reduce inflammation, get new blood in there, and have a healthier muscle body.
3. Improve Flexibility And ROM
Since voodoo flossing can be applied and used for both muscles and joints, some studies have found that when flossing is done regularly, things like plantar flexion and dorsiflexion range of motion was improved from the ischemic compression technique. This is theorized to happen by reducing inflammation in the area, moving the joint in the proper planes of motion, and improving blood flow, nutrient delivery, and oxygen to the area for a more lubricated movement.
4. Reduce Or Prevent Muscle Soreness
While inconclusive, a couple studies have found that voodoo flossing muscle tissue can help with reducing post-workout soreness, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and can prevent injury when used regularly.
5. In With New Blood, Out With The Old
Anytime you can get new blood into an area that has been damaged or used from exercise it is a good idea to get new blood into the area to provide nutrients and oxygen. This is why nitric oxide boosting supplements, like Citrulline Malate, can really help improve performance and recovery. Consequently, nitric oxide widens blood vessels increasing blood flow and circulation without increasing blood pressure. We recommend combining your pre-workout voodoo flossing with a supplement that contains a nitric oxide booster for optimal results, blood flow, performance and recovery.
How Do You Use Voodoo Floss
Voodoo floss protocol is best implemented by a trained professional like a physical therapist or educated athletic trainer due to the risk involved with over constricting the muscles and potentially causing damage to the muscle, joint, or nerves. That being said though, you can certainly experiment on your own, listening to your body, and working up to the appropriate pressure.
- Get a voodoo floss Rogue band or a band from any other website or in person store
- Pick a movement you’re not particularly good at and/or that you have poor mobility in -or- an area that is hard to stretch, that is sore, or tight (think your quad for squats, your ankle for mobility in the squat, or your elbow)
- Wrap the area from the top down(you might need help from a friend, trainer, or coach), at a 50% compression, without any wrinkles in the band (to avoid it sticking together and getting stuck)
- Perform the intended motion or similar motion (i.e. air squat, side step, extension/flexion) for :30 - 2 minutes
- Unwind and remove the band, allowing for the recirculation of blood in the area, and repeat as necessary
What Not To Do When Voodoo Flossing
- Do not wrap the band more than 50% tension around the area of focus due to the possibility of over constricting and damage to the area
- Do not continue to wear the band if you experience any significant change in color of the skin, numbness, loss of motion or tingling. If this happens, take it off, and don’t wrap it that tight
- Typically speaking, we recommend a wear time of :30 - 2 minutes and no more than that at a time (this is not BFT, but we’ll get to that later)
- Wrap your area from the top down and DO NOT overlap the band. The reason for this is that you do not want to get yourself into a situation where you cannot quickly and efficiently unravel that band if you put it on too tight. You also do not want that sticky band to roll over itself so tight and get so stuck that you have to cut it off. YIKES.
Where To Buy A Voodoo Flossing Band
To be honest, voodoo floss bands are an extremely beneficial and you don’t want just any band. The reason? Putting the band under serious tension over and over with repeated use can wear down the rubber and the last thing you need is for that thing to snap back at you while you’re winding it around your body. Yikes. The voodoo floss band from Rogue Fitness is easily the most popular, but you can find other retailers by doing a simple Google or Amazon search. There’s not really one that is better than another (unless its a janky one off Amazon) and what you’re often paying for, if the thickness is the same, is the the brand name on it.
Is Voodoo Flossing The Same As Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFR)
In short, no, voodoo flossing is not the same thing as blood flow restriction training. BFR is meant to actually reduce blood flow to an area of the body by constricting the blood vessels, creating a hypoxic event. This means that anywhere from 50-80% of blood flow is restricted, and in doing so, anabolic growth factors, fast twitch fiber recruitment, and muscle protein synthesis are all increased. The intended use and voodoo floss protocol is not meant to occlude any arteries or veins. When you floss a muscle, you do not want to get so tight with it (and you might want to, but don’t!) that you actually cause significant damage to the nerves and blood vessels.
Voodoo Flossing: Takeaway
Voodoo flossing is a nice way to reduce soreness, improve recovery, improve mobility, rehab injuries, or get an area of your body warmed up before you workout. While the research is lacking and inconclusive around this ischemic compression technique that does not mean that it may not work for you. Pro tips: don’t wrap the band with more than 50% compression, make sure you can get it off quickly if you wrap it too tight, don’t floss for more than 2 minutes at a time, and don’t skip your regular mobility sessions or use voodoo flossing as a substitute to regular stretching and mobility sessions.
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