Irradiated by LabRat
Aptly named as after playing with them all weekend we are pretty well convinced they are actually magical.
As readers may or may not be aware, we are fans of Mobility WOD. It’s a video blog run by a Doctor of Physical Therapy dude (and he is most definitely a dude sort of guy) named Kelly Starret, whose original and still primary aim was helping athletes address their joint and tissue injuries, injuries-waiting-to-be, and limitations. It’s sort of a paradoxical experience in that his southern California dudebroness made us both kind of want to punch him in the face at first, but emerging evidence going through this stuff that he is pretty much always right… yeah.
So, the floss bands. MWOD introduced us to the concept and it seems to be pretty much his invention. Stingray and I both have relatively normal joints, but we both have old injuries that echo forward in ways that are very slightly problematic- he has an elbow he inadvisedly employed with a jackhammer against a lot of basalt (never do this) that effectively acts like a chronic case of tennis elbow, and I have an ankle in which I popped a lateral ligament in twice in a row when I was a teenager and has never really been quite the same again. He can’t lean on his left elbow and gets irritating twinges in weight-bearing exercises that load that joint; I have less range of motion in my right ankle and it’s prone to rolling on me.
Or, actually, past tense on both, see again magic. He tried the elbow, I tried the ankle. He got all the range of motion in his elbow back plus a disappearance of the pain after a minute or two of screwing with it wrapped, I got five degrees more flexion in the bad ankle than I had in the good. (At least until I got tired of walking around on one flexible ankle and one stiff one and did the good ankle as well.) It’s not permanent- but it does last for hours, and the effects seem to be cumulatively theraputic. He’s got some elbow twinges again, but not as bad as they were and he only wrapped it the once three days ago. We’ve been obsessed with these rubber bands all damn weekend and have found it works dandy on knees and wrists as well. I’m tempted to wrap myself up like a mummy and see how many power snatches I can get in before I fall over unconscious.
The basic principle of the thing is that, in healthy tissues, tendons and ligaments and fascia and muscle slide against one another freely; in tissues that have been inflamed by injury or by chronic misuse/underuse/overuse, the connective tissues tend to mat together somewhat. This limits range of motion and can cause a little to a lot of pain, depending on how bad and where. The compression banding pins down big tendons and forces the tissues to slide independently of one another again as you move the joint through as much and as many different kinds of range of motion as you can think of. (This part is not as much theoretical- you can feel it and it is WEIRD). After the wrap comes off, blood flows back into the area as you move the joint around freely again, and the extra oxygen boost helps keep things from immediately restiffening. (This part is more theoretical, but what the hell, makes sense to me.)
The I-have-a-new-joint effect lasts for hours. It’s neat. Bands cost about 25 bucks for a pack of two 7-foot bands. If you’ve got a knee or elbow or ankle or wrist or whatever that’s just not quite the same (not a real, serious disability), you might consider giving it a shot- or even if the injury is more major than that, try wrapping the joints downstream that have had to compensate for the new movement patterns in the meantime and see if it doesn’t make THEM happier.
As a disclaimer, I’m not getting paid for this. I doubt Rogue Fitness or Kelly Starrett are aware of my existence. But it’s a really damned neat feeling to spend two minutes with a rubber band and get back a range of comfortable motion (and absence of chronic pain) that’s been gone for years, if only for a couple of hours- but renewable anytime.
As a final disclaimer, lagniappe if you will, I have NO clue how this will work for those among you whose injuries involve a whole bunch of metal in the affected joint. It might help, it might hurt, if it’s actually painful rather than just weird and uncomfortable stop immediately and find someone else to make a gift of it to.