Everything You Need To Know About Voodoo Flossing For Mobility

Created by Elly McGuinness

Last Updated: October 1, 2020

CATEGORIES: Physical Fitness

Voodoo flossing is a great option to consider as part of your mobility training plan. A few years ago I hadn’t even heard of it. I was introduced to it by a chiropractor, Doctor Rich Beaubien (who shared these fab exercises to manage lower back pain). 

Having been in the health and fitness industry for almost 20 years at the time, I was surprised that it was the first time I’d come across voodoo floss bands. Rich explained that they’re quite a niche product. I liked the concept and have been using them ever since.

An Introduction to voodoo flossing

Also known as voodoo tape, compression tack, or mobility bands, voodoo floss doesn’t have anything to do with creepy dolls or spells (to my knowledge anyway!). They’re also completely unrelated to the floss dance! Although the bands might look a bit like exercise resistance bands, they’re used for a different purpose, and in a completely different way.

Voodoo flossing is sometimes referred to as joint flossing, muscle flossing, or compression band therapy (CBT). Although you might hear the term “blood flow restriction training (BFRT)” used interchangeably, it is not the same as voodoo flossing. They are related modalities but a specific type of cuff should be used for BFRT and the goals are different from voodoo flossing. 

In this post, you’ll learn all about what voodoo flossing is, how it works, and why you might consider using it. You’ll find out how to use it for specific body parts, about safety concerns, research, and where to buy voodoo floss.

If you’re still keen to learn more about mobility training techniques by the end of the post, I’m going to tell you about another very effective, and complementary technique to muscle flossing.

(This post includes affiliate links for which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase)

With over 600 pre-recorded classes (as well as live sessions) to choose from, I highly recommend the FIIT at-home workout app. They have a whole section just for mobility-specific classes.

Get 10% off any membership on Fiit using code ELLY10

What is voodoo floss? What does voodoo floss do?

Voodoo floss is the name given to the tape that is used for muscle and joint flossing. It’s a long band that you wrap around a specific area on the arm or leg. It acts like a compression bandage.

Once the body part is wrapped up, blood flow to the area is restricted, and certain exercises or stretches are performed. After a short amount of time, the band is removed to allow blood to flow back into the area. 

Voodoo bands are often made from latex rubber, although latex-free options are also available. They are often used in Crossfit mobility training. Some physiotherapists, chiropractors, and fitness trainers might also use them as part of their toolkit. 

Voodoo flossing could be used in conjunction with trigger point therapy techniques and tools such as foam rollers and trigger point balls. Whereas the focus for trigger point therapy is on the muscles, voodoo flossing can also work into the joints, so these offer promise as complementary mobility training techniques. You may have also heard about massage guns, which are another related modality that uses a technique called percussive therapy.

See the latest prices for foam rollers on Amazon.

See the latest prices for trigger point balls on Amazon.

How does voodoo floss work? Why does voodoo floss work?

Overall, it’s not clearly understood exactly why voodoo floss works. What’s known is that voodoo flossing, like other mobility techniques, is a form of myofascial release that results from the interaction between the nervous system and muscles. When it is used around a joint it may help to temporarily create space in the joint and in turn, reduce movement restrictions.

There are a few theories that are thrown around explaining how voodoo floss works, but more research is needed to really understand the mechanism behind it. The term “flossing” likely comes from the analogy of flossing teeth. The theory is that muscle flossing helps break up the “junk” in between muscles. 

Blood flow is temporarily restricted when the band is on, and then flows back to the joint or muscle when it is removed. Theoretically, circulation is increased after the band is removed, which has the potential to help with healing and recovery. Some people claim that this helps to break down scar tissue but this has not been proven.

Voodoo floss is very different from compression clothing. Voodoo floss is only left on for a very short amount of time and creates a much tighter compression effect. Other compression tools might be used for longer at one time, but they work in a different way to voodoo flossing and may offer intermittent, rather than continuous compression.

What is Voodoo Floss used for | Voodoo flossing benefits

Why use voodoo floss? The main aims and potential benefits of voodoo flossing include: 

  • Improving joint range of motion
  • Increasing mobility (i.e. improving movement/being able to move more freely and easily)
  • Potential improvements to performance
  • Decreasing pain levels in muscles and joints
  • Improving recovery between training sessions and reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs) when it’s used after, or in between workouts
  • Reducing injury potential during workouts when it’s used for pre-workout mobility

Voodoo floss is used on specific areas of the limbs, based on previous injuries, niggles, or general areas of stiffness or pain.

Does voodoo floss really work?

Studies on Voodoo flossing are very limited and small-scale. The results of some of these studies highlight the potential of voodoo floss as an effective tool for injury prevention and athletic performance. Overall, more research is needed to draw solid conclusions.

A study of 52 recreational athletes found that voodoo flossing the ankle resulted in increased dorsiflexion and plantarflexion range of motion. It also improved single-leg jump performance as compared to the control (non flossed) ankle. A meta-analysis of studies on voodoo flossing for ankle joint range of motion also identified some positive results. 

Other studies have found no significant improvements to the range of motion when comparing voodoo flossing to a control group. In a study of glenohumeral (shoulder) range of motion, no statistical difference was found between the voodoo flossing and non-voodoo flossing groups. Interestingly, the Voodoo floss group had a perceived increase in flexibility. Therefore, the effects were psychological, rather than physical!

Another study of 59 participants found no significant improvement in gastrocnemius length (calf flexibility) with voodoo flossing when compared to a standard stretch. There may have been several limitations with this study, including the method of testing (static stretching). Most advocates of voodoo floss are probably more likely to use it when performing dynamic stretch movements, mobility-specific movements, or bodyweight resistance exercises.

If you ask the question “Do voodoo floss bands work?” to a regular flosser they’ll likely give you an emphatic “yes”. If they didn’t believe it was having a positive effect then they wouldn’t be using it. While science takes time to catch up, reports on the benefits of using it are likely to come from personal experience. 

Is Voodoo Flossing Safe?

A little bit of sensible thinking goes a long way when it comes to voodoo band flossing. Below are some general safety points to be aware of, which can be used in conjunction with the section on how to use voodoo floss.

  • Due to safety issues, never floss the following body parts: face, neck, head, chest, stomach, or back. Voodoo floss has been designed to be used on the limbs, so avoid any other body parts.
  • Do not use voodoo floss if you have any blood clots or heart conditions or concerns. If you have any medical conditions, it’s best to seek advice from your doctor.
  • For current injuries, consult your doctor or physiotherapist before using voodoo floss
  • If you are allergic to latex, purchase a latex-free variety of voodoo floss such as the one below

Safety precautions for wrapping voodoo floss

  • The band needs to be wrapped tightly enough to cause a compression effect (about 50% tension), but not so tight that the circulation gets completely cut off. It should also be overlapped by about 50% as you wrap. See specific information on how to voodoo floss further down this post. If you experience any pain, numbness or tingling, remove the floss band immediately. 
  • Leave a few inches free at the end of the wrap. This will enable you to tuck the loose end in, ideally near the bottom. Problems can occur if you tuck the loose end into the top of the wrap and the top ends up folding over and tangling the band. This could happen when flossing a joint such as the knee. The voodoo band may become difficult to unwrap. In the worst case, it might need to be cut off quickly, so just make sure you’ve tucked it somewhere that you can easily release it.
  • Leave your voodoo wrap on for no longer than two minutes, and take it off sooner if you experience any pain, numbness or tingling. These symptoms may mean that you have wrapped it too tightly

When to use Voodoo Floss

So how do you know when to voodoo floss? Voodoo flossing can be done before workouts as part of your workout preparation routine. Try it pre workout if you want to improve mobility. It can also be used after workouts or in between workouts as a recovery modality to reduce muscle soreness.

As part of your workout preparation routine, you could use it in place of trigger point therapy tools such as foam rollers and trigger point balls. Or you could use both of these types of tools. I like to use my trigger point ball on my glutes before I start on any workout. I then begin a general (cardio) warm-up, followed by dynamic stretches. During my dynamic stretch routine, I like to use my voodoo floss on my “problem” hip while I’m doing leg swings. I then use it on my “problem” knee while doing bodyweight squats and lunges at the end of my warm-up.

How to use voodoo floss

General guidelines for using voodoo floss:

  • You do not need to floss your entire limb(s). Target your problem area(s) and then continue with your workout or whatever else you are doing
  • Wrap to 50% tension and with 50% overlap from the top down. Leave a few inches to tuck a little back into the wrap near the end
  • Perform your intended movement (e.g. dynamic stretches, or bodyweight resistance exercises)
  • Remove the band after a maximum of two minutes

Remember to respect the safety guidelines covered above. The following sections cover voodoo flossing for specific parts of your limbs.

How to voodoo floss knee

There are different ways you can use your voodoo floss band on your knee. Some professionals tape over the knee cap. Personally, I don’t like the feel of that since I end up feeling more restricted. It’s up to you which technique you use. Others tape below, or above the knee cap, or both above and below using either one or two bands.

When you’re voodoo flossing your knee, wrap towards the heart. Once your wrap is in place, take your knee through flexion and extension in a seated position. And then try some bodyweight squats.

The floss bands knee video below is a good, simple example of how to voodoo floss your knee. It also includes safety reminders.

How to voodoo floss hamstring or quad

Use the same principles to voodoo floss your muscles, as you would for your joints. Wrap towards the heart with 50% tension and overlap. To begin with, try something simple and non-weight bearing. 

For a quad or hamstring strain, you can use the same voodoo floss wrapping technique, as demonstrated in this video

How to voodoo floss calf

When you’re voodoo flossing your calf, start below the calf muscle and continue wrapping up towards the top of your calf. Start mobilizing by pointing and flexing your foot, and then try bodyweight calf raises.

The video below offers a simple explanation and demonstration on how to voodoo floss your calf.

How to voodoo floss ankle

To improve general ankle mobility, wrap the ankle joint, beginning at the bottom of the foot. Once the wrap is in place, you can perform flexion and extension, followed by bodyweight calf raises (as in the calf flossing section). Check out the video below for a simple demonstration and explanation.

How to voodoo floss your achilles

For Achilles issues, you’ll need to wrap your voodoo tape lower on your leg. The Ready State shares a great video below. It offers an in-depth explanation and demonstration of how to voodoo achilles tendons. Especially important is the concept of getting as much mobilization into the tissue as possible, by performing a range of different movements.

Voodoo floss foot

Voodoo floss your feet if they are tired and achy at the end of the day. The video below offers a comprehensive explanation and demonstration, which includes an amazing restorative posture that helps not only your feet feel good, but also your lower back. It’s a lot more passive than the other voodoo floss techniques I’ve listed and it should feel very relaxing.

You might also want to see this video on how to use a trigger point ball on your feet.

How to voodoo floss your own shoulder

Again, there are different techniques to voodoo floss your shoulder. If you’re working out at home you may be wondering how to floss your own shoulder. It might take a little more practice than other body parts, but it’s certainly doable!

Rock Tape has another good video on how to voodoo floss shoulder joints by yourself, which I’ve linked to below. If you have someone else around while you’re flossing, ask them to help you out until you get the hang of it.

How to voodoo floss elbow

Does voodoo floss work for tennis elbow? Although problems can be complex, elbow flossing can help common conditions such as tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. The video below shares detailed information on how to voodoo floss your elbow. It offers a great explanation and demonstration on how to voodoo floss your own elbow. Again, it might take a little practice to self-administer this technique.

How to voodoo floss bicep and tricep

If you want to floss your bicep or tricep, you can apply the floss in the same way, just above the elbow joint, as demonstrated in the video below. Then perform mobility exercises relevant to the muscle you want to target. 

For the bicep, you’ll really want to work into extension at the elbow joint. If you’re aiming for your tricep, get your arm overhead and work through your flexion and extension movements.

How to voodoo floss finger joints

Yes, it’s possible to voodoo floss even tiny joints and muscles such as those in the fingers. Some climbers have experimented with using voodoo floss on their finger joints to ease aches and pains. I’m not sure that you can purchase tiny voodoo floss that is designed for joints like the fingers, but you can certainly cut the larger floss bands up to do the job.

The video below offers a demonstration on how to use voodoo floss on your fingers.

Where to buy voodoo floss

Voodoo floss is a relatively cheap, lightweight, and invaluable piece of kit to add to your mobility training toolkit. You can purchase voodoo bands from Amazon. There are different brands, and lengths of voodoo floss available. 

How long should voodoo floss be? Most brands will offer a standard size, which is pre-cut to 7 feet long and 2 inches wide. You can also purchase extra long cuts of voodoo floss (28 feet), and cut it yourself.

Voodoo flossing larger, or harder to reach areas of the body may require more tape than others. I have two x seven foot bands, which I find is perfect. I know that others prefer to have more on hand.

WODFitters offers a pack of two voodoo floss bands (7 feet long) where you can select the standard 2-inch width, or choose an extra-wide 4 inches. PRx Performance sells single bands and Limm offers a pack of two, which includes bands of different thicknesses.

See the latest prices for voodoo floss on Amazon.

You can take a sneak peak inside my full recommended fitness kit below!

I hope you found this post helpful. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there’s another mobility training technique that I absolutely love. It’s called trigger point therapy. I use a trigger point ball on “problem” areas and treat it as a complementary technique to voodoo flossing. I especially love using a trigger point ball on my glutes because it works deeper into the muscle than a foam roller can.

Click here to discover everything you need to know about using a trigger point ball.

For additional advice about therapeutic exercise techniques that help reduce pain and stiffness, check out this awesome full-body stretch routine. It’s a great resource for your at-home, or anywhere workouts.

With over 600 pre-recorded classes (as well as live sessions) to choose from, I highly recommend the FIIT at-home workout app. They have a whole section just for mobility-specific classes.

Get 10% off any membership on Fiit using code ELLY10

Please feel free to join the conversation by leaving a message below.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these recommended service provider links, like an insurance broker, or a travel agent, I may earn a commission – at no extra cost to you. [For my full disclosure, please see my DISCLAIMER page].

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