Post-workout aches and pains can be common, and while it's often worn with a badge of honour that indicates you worked hard, it can make the following days a little slower on the movement front. That’s where stretching and post-workout rituals come in handy, and should be part of your routine. One of these methods is muscle flossing, also known as tissue flossing, a common compression therapy technique. Here, we look into the fundamentals of muscle flossing, how to perform the activity and what you should know.
What is muscle flossing?
Muscle flossing is a method of soft tissue mobilisation, using a latex band for compression. This can be done during both active or passive mobilisation. Typically, a band is wrapped around a joint or muscle group, much like a bandage wrap may be placed. When flossing muscles, your blood flow is constricted to the compressed area and when taken off, the flow rushes to the affected area and it is flooded with oxygen and nutrients. Muscle flossing is frequently performed before ore after a workout, with the most common areas targeted being the quadriceps, hamstrings, ankles, elbows, shoulders and knees.
What are the benefits of completing muscle flossing in our routine?
Physical therapists and trainers employ muscle flossing as part of treatment protocols as it decreases a feeling of tightness in the area, which can lead to improved flexibility or muscle soreness. If you are seeking to increase mobility or enhance recovery after your workout or an athletic event (such as a marathon or fun run), you may want to consider adding muscle flossing into your routine. Joint gliding and greater awareness with the nervous system when moving can also be achieved through muscle flossing.
How does one perform the muscle flossing method?
If looking to start muscle flossing, it is relatively simple to incorporate into your warm up or warm down routines. Follow the below steps to add muscle flossing into your routine.
- Wrap the are with the bands at no more than 50 per cent tension and 50 per cent overlap of fabric. You should aim to wrap the band slightly above and below the muscle or joint affected. Tuck the end of the band into the wrapped band.
- Move the limb through a range of motion. If this is your knee, you can do standing heel and glute exercises.
- Once you have completed your exercise, remove the wrapped band.
When starting out, it can be beneficial to speak with and potentially even work with a physical therapist or athletic trainer as they can identify the correct are and show you how to correctly perform the activity.
Are there any risks associated with completing the muscle flossing method?
Much like any physical activity or stretching, there are of course risks associated with performing the activity. If you are unsure if muscle flossing is right for you, it is always best to speak with your health professional in the first instance. Generally speaking, the most common risks include:
- Avoid wrapping the band too tight or on for too long.
- Ensure there is no numbness or tingling caused when the area is wrapped.
- Do not wrap the brand more than 50 per cent tension.
- Do not keep the wrap on for more than 1-2 minutes.
On the first few occasions of muscle flossing, many will wrap the band too tight, causing more pain and potentially loss of feeling. If this happens, or you notice throbbing or tingle, immediately stop. If you have preexisting health conditions or are pregnant, speaking with a health professional prior to muscle flossing is the correct route to take.