Popularized by Kelly Starrett and Mobility WOD, “Flossing” is a method of wrapping a muscle group or joint tightly while stretching or performing certain exercises with the goal of improving mobility or decreasing pain.
Floss wrap comes in two sizes – a 2″ width and a 4″ width. The smaller size is good for the arms and lower legs, while the bigger width is probably required to wrap your thigh.
Popular brands include Rogue, Mobility WOD, and RockTape’s RockFloss. Any brand will do the trick.
Well, improving mobility of course! But here’s the interesting thing – the medical community isn’t exactly sure how or why this stuff works. We do know however that any sort of mobility tool is creating short term perceptions in increased mobility through manipulating the nervous system.
There are some theories as to what the floss is doing, and these include shearing and gliding of the layers of the skin and muscle fascia, communicating with the nervous system to bring awareness to a certain area, and improving joint gliding.
Some things that voodoo floss definitely isn’t doing are breaking up scar tissue or re-releasing nutrients to the area. Some well known Crossfitters or big brands may make these claims, but these simply just aren’t true. Don’t get me wrong, flossing can work, we just aren’t entirely sure how.
With that being said, voodoo floss can be a very useful tool in your warmup and recovery routines.
Not only is this band NOT actually occluding the arteries or veins even close to the desired stimulus for hypertrophy, but this is also potentially unsafe. Creating such a tight, narrow tourniquet can damage nerves and blood vessels in the area. Don’t be that guy! Stick to an FDA approved BFR cuff and learn the right way to do it. For both maximal safety and maximal muscle gains.
Voodoo floss can be a great tool to make short-term improvements in joint mobility and/or muscle flexibility – perfect for your pre-workout warmup.
The correct way to use floss for mobility:
When your joint is wrapped, (always at 50% tension and 50% overlap), move into the restricted range of motion about 20 times, or 60 seconds. No need to add 10 minutes on the warmup or floss your entire body…move it and move on!
Use floss for that post-workout muscle soreness. A little compression can really feel great on your muscles on a recovery day or immediately post-workout.
The correct way to use floss here – wrap the sore muscle or joint with 50% tension and 50% overlap and keep it on for only 1-2 minutes. You don’t want to wrap too tight or keep it on for too long as these bands can cut off circulation. You can mix it in to your recovery routine. Wrap for a minute or two, stretch or move around a bit, then floss again.
But people use the Normatec Boots for up to 20 minutes…why wrap for just 1 minute here? Again, this is very different than other recovery tools. The Normatecs cover the entire leg and provide sequential, intermittent compression. Voodoo bands are narrower, can get very tight, and provide constant pressure. 1-2 minutes is plenty. Don’t let your limb get numb or tingly.
**There’s a difference between a little post-workout soreness and persistent pain. If the soreness is consistent causing a decrease in your performance or even preventing you from working out – a little floss wrap isn’t going to fix the problem. Get assessed by a rehab professional.
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