The PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list is a resource for all Athletes in pain.  No matter if you’re fast/slow, strong/weak you are still an Athlete.

A year or so ago I had tennis elbow.  The best part: I don’t even play tennis.

But every time I placed my right elbow under load and tried to move it I had pain.  Sharp, searing pain.

I set up an appointment with my Doc but you know how annoying that is. First you make an appointment, then you see your Doc who then recommends you see a specialist with whom you make another appointment.  But that guy’s the best and there’s no quick appointments so three months later you get fixed.

There has to be an easier way.

So I stretched.  The elbow still hurt.

I foam rolled.  Still hurt.

I used R.I.C.E.  No change for the R (Rest), I (Ice) or E (Elevation).

But the C (Compression) worked.  How did the Compression work?  It was voodoo.

Voodoo floss.

I was reading ‘Becoming a Supple Leopard‘ at the time.  The author, Kelly Starrett wrote that Voodoo floss ‘is my first stop for treating tennis elbow,’ which led me to the question  : What is voodoo floss?

‘Voodoo flossing is an intermittent, compression based joint mobilization method that incorporates all the mobility systems simultaneously.’  Look at the smaaaaaht Kid with the ten cent words.

via GIPHY

This sounds way too involved for me to do on my own but Voodoo flossing is easy.  Most things in fitness are easy, even when people science up the words.

Find your sore joint (in my case it was the elbow).  Wrap your voodoo bands around the affected joint (one client called it a tourniquet).  Once your joint is wrapped move the joint through some Range of Motion drills.  Do this for 2 minutes and remove the band.  Instant relief.  Your joints will feel like they are sparkling (that’s the rush of blood back into the joint).

I wrapped above the elbow and did some elbow circles, pushups etc and then the song on my iPod changed to one I’d like to skip.  I pulled out the iPod with the wrapped arm and started swiping.  Bingo.  I was on to something.

Turns out my tennis elbow was texter’s elbow.  I had been swiping away at my phone a little bit too much (No Tinder jokes please, I’m married).  I kept the wrap on and kept swiping.  Three weeks of consistent pain were flossed away in a minute.  I’ve recreated the entire experience in a short film with the imaginative title ‘Voodoo Floss the movie’.  Enjoy:

That came out kind of dumb.  Whatever.

I’ve since flossed out my feet, my knees, hamstrings, shoulders, wrists, you name it.  I always feel a little bit better after I do it, particularly my knees and feet.

The reason it works: voodoo.  The real reason- there are several.  Sometimes muscle, skin and fascia get matted and stuck underneath the skin.  The wrap compresses and tears apart these adhesions.  The restriction of blood flow, followed by the rush will often create a euphoric feeling wherever you have wrapped.

There are some guidelines to voodoo flossing (straight from the manuals).

-Wrap towards the heart.

-Don’t leave it on for more than two or three minutes.

-Apply the band at 50-75% tension.

-Don’t wrap if you’ve got any open wounds or skin conditions.

-Don’t use the wrap if you have cancer, are on blood thinners, have deep vein thrombosis, or are diabetic.

My observations- Voodoo flossing is great if you are hurt.   Suffering from an overuse pain like shin splints or sore knees, this is your savior.  If you have a long term injury like a rotator cuff or a ligament tear the floss will make you feel better initially but later on you may be in for some serious hurt.  I have a client with a long time shoulder injury.  We flossed it and she felt A-mazing in the moment!  Her ROM improved dramatically after two minutes in the wrap.  She left happy only to text me the next day:  Never Again.  The floss made her feel worse later on that day.

I saw that response three more times (a foot, an ankle and a knee).  It always feels better in the moment, but these were long term injuries that people had for years.  They all said the same thing: Never Again.

But runners and lifters who were just sore and inflamed from tough workouts LOVE IT!  You feel immediately better and there is no post floss hangover.

Bottom line- if you are hurt, then floss.  Injured?  Skip it.  Don’t know the difference?  Read this.

How’d you do with the voodoo?  Share your result with me @ thebostonrunningman@gmail.com

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