The Wonderful World of Voodoo Floss
Written by Michele Vieux
Ever wonder why so many athletes are hooked on their Voodoo floss? Are you trying to decide if you should get some? Not sure how to use yours? Hopefully you already know all of the wonderful uses for Voodoo floss and it’s amazing benefits for your mobility and recovery but just in case you do not, here’s a summary of why this tool is so magical along with some examples and ideas for making the most of your floss.
Out With the Old & In With the New
Voodoo Floss helps break up intramuscular junk to allow for greater mobility and blood supply to an area. By squeezing the muscle in a tight wrap, then forcing it through a full range of motion (ROM), friction between muscle fibers helps break up fuzz, scar tissue, lactic acid and other junk in those tiny places that foam rolling and lacrosse ball techniques can’t address. You will only leave the Voodoo floss on for about two minutes.
Example: TIGHTLY wrap the calf and do calf-focused self-myofascial release (SMR), stretching, squats, lunges, etc.
Healing & Cleansing Power
When you release the band, a rush of blood washes through the muscle; this not only brings nutrients for growth and healing but also clearing out all that junk you just broke up. This is also true for injury recovery and can be used to aid the healing of strained tissue. For swollen areas, you want to promote lymphatic drainage. To do this, wrap the band about half as tight as you do when you’re trying to mobilize the area. It’s good to put the area through gentle ROM if you can; shoot for more of a compression massage where you are physically maneuvering the area versus bashing it to death.
Example: For swollen knees, wrap the band snugly but not too tightly around the knee and then massage the swollen area. A few gentle squats here would be ok or even walking up and down stairs. No prying or other aggressive movements.
Stretch Those Hard to Stretch Places
To work shoulders, wrists, ankles, elbows and the little pieces within, wrap a band tightly around the joint (sometimes it might take two bands to cover the area) and put it through ROM like push-ups, PVC pass-throughs, squatting, lunging, etc. For knees, wrap one band above and one band below the joint, then do some squats. When you put the joint through ROM with bands anchored on either side, they stretch everything in between, which can greatly improve not only joint ROM but also pain, stiffness and tendonitis.
Example: Wrap your elbow tightly starting four fingers above the joint and rollling down tightly. Force your elbow into flexion by doing push-ups or having someone bend it.
Good to Go versus Probably a No No
Unfortunately, as great as this tool can be, there are some areas of the body that floss does NOT help. Please avoid these areas.
Good to Go: shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hands, thighs/hamstrings, calf, ankle, foot
No No: head, face, neck, chest, torso, abdomen, back, over knee cap (this one is your call but I don’t think it feels very nice)
Extremely Important – Please Note!
ROLL FROM THE TOP DOWN and leave the loose end near the bottom to avoid a “code red”. A code red happens when the loose end is left at the top of the wrap and then the top rolls down over the end, tightening and tangling it into something that’s impossible to unravel and you have to cut yourself out of.
Where & What to Purchase
You can purchase Voodoo Floss on Amazon.com or RogueFitness.com and I recommend that you purchase the 28’ length and cut it into three pieces – 2 x 10’ & 1 x 8’ – versus purchasing the pre-cut 7’ lengths. You can never have too much floss but you hate to run out halfway down a quad.
Test and retest the ROM and/or do one side and compare it to the other the first few times you Voodoo so you can see what a difference it makes. After that, when you’re a pro, you can wrap more than one body part at a time and come up with your own movements and motions with them on depending on your needs and what feels like it works best for you.
Please share your favorite use of Voodoo Floss in the comments.
Also I was told not to ice an injury it only masks the pain and decreases circulation which is bad for blood going in but also delays fluid from going on causes more swelling and irritation to the injury
My physical therapist has me doing this over a meniscus tear two-three times a day to cut off blood flow so when I take it off the blood rushes in and pushes out all the Inflammation and trapped fluid.
How often should one floss an area? Daily? How many times a day?
I’m wondering the same thing. I’ve noticed a pretty amazing increase in range of motion in the first week but I was also doing it pretty aggressively every day and I think I hurt my knee and hip a little bit so maybe that’s too much at first.
Some bands out there are not enough “grippy”. I like both, however, for different work. But if you do prefer a “grippy” version, for better tissue “shearing” I can recommend particularly this variant: amazon.com/dp/B07BD4FR8D
These sticky bands grip your skin tight and provide more deeper work with tissues. I like them.
Can you use them every day?
It’s clear that VooDoo flossing helps with tendinitis. But, does anyone know if VooDoo flossing is appropriate for tendinosis (given that tendinitis and tendinosis have different treatment prescriptions)?
To define terms a bit: Tendinitis is inflammation, Tendinosis involves degenerative changes in tissues. They are also relates to each other as Acute vs Chronic, Fire in a forest VS rotten wood in swamp. Tendinosis needs collagen supply and formation. In this logic voodoo bands have nothing to promise with tendinosis. But, if they 1) stimulate tissue nutrition by flushing old blood out and new blood in – it’s good, 2) letting tight muscles to relax and therefore decreasing load to tendons (which we remember need to be nourished and taken care of), – I would conclude that this is… Read more »
Does this process work for breaking down scar tissue around an incision from a hernia repair?
can you use the floss to wrap all the way around your waist? I have a pelvis tilt and what to loosen tissue and joints around the pelvis.
You may experiment with this but they don’t solve your problem.
I got an MCL injury about a week ago. I’ve been icing and elevating. Wearing a knee support and taking it easy. I order some Floss, but I’m wondering if I can use the Floss to help recover a little quicker. Or if Floss on this type of injury is not a good idea.
Yeah sure. You can use the floss band proximal and distal to the knee joint while doing movement exercises. It will help you recover faster (y)
Icing + elevating + … = delaying rehab!!! Might want to read “Iced! The illusionary treatment option” if you ever get a similar injury. 🙁
I use an old bike inner tube for this. Knocks out elbow tendonitis like magic…err, voodoo.
Also, thanks invictus for introducing me to crossover symmetry. Great program.
I was wondering about the bike inner tube thing. 🙂 Have you had any Iron Scap PR’s?
Shouldn’t you always floss “towards the heart”? Like for your quads, start from above the knee towards your hip/groin? And for your arms, from elbow to shoulder?
it does say that you should wrap towards the heart in KStarr’s “Ready to Run”
Just be careful where you leave the end – it should be left near the bottom so it doesn’t get rolled in.
Yeah, and I always floss that way. Feels like you’re pressning the blood out in your limbs if you do the other way around.. And that can’t be good?
Any suggestions for wrapping an elbow without help? I always feel like I need a third hand and don’t always have a superfriend.
I use a corner where two walls or the small part of a squat rack. its not perfect, but works. once you get the first full wrap, you can usually come off the wall or rack and keep wrapping around.
Good suggestion! When I wrap my own arm, i don’t worry about getting the anchor (first wrap round or two) too tight – just enough to get it in place then crank down once you get going.
Thanks for the article Michelle! I’ve always wondered how you use these specifically.
How would you use the floss to improve shoulder mobility? How/where would it be wrapped/placed?
The answer to that will probably take a separate blog post. I have come up with a special shoulder-wrapping technique. You will need help from a superfriend for this. Stand facing your friend with your arm extended and place your hand on their shoulder. Have them start wrapping around the top of the bicep to get an anchor; then bring it up over the deltoid and work your way down across the joint. I will do a video post for sure!
here is an example of wrapping a shoulder.