I’ve written about the Graston Technique before.  Recently, I’ve added The Voodoo Band, to my treatment arsenal.  Manual treatment is our forte at Professional Physical Therapy and Training.  Soft tissue mobilization is a technique that we employ frequently to restore mobility and flexibility to restore normal function.

The Voodoo Band is a latex rubber compression band that we can wrap around a problem area to mobilize the tissue.  It’s a little uncomfortable, but after the treatment, we see immediate changes, less pain, and increased freedom of movement.  How does it work?

Frankly, there’s no major research studies that conclusively outline the Voodoo Band’s efficacy.  Our results are anecdotal.  But the side effects are very minimal and the effects pretty much speak for themselves.  Some hypotheses include “fascial shear”, “vascular occlusion and hyperemia”, joint compression, and “pain gating”.

The body is basically made up of layers of tissue, tissue that should move and slide on each other to create movement.  Some of the principles of the Graston Technique are based on this “fascial shear”.  Forcing movement of one layer of tissue on another layer of tissue can break up adhesions that may limit range of motion or flexibility.  When we wrap a muscle or other soft tissue with the band, we’re squeezing all those layers together.  Then we combine that with active or passive movement creating the shear force to break up the adhesions.

Then there’s the “vascular occlusion and hyperemia”.  When you wrap the band around an area, there’s compression, maybe not enough to completely stop blood flow, but enough to reduce it.  Then when we unwrap the area quickly, there’s this quick return of blood to the area.  This quick cut off and large amount of blood flow return has several different benefits.  Think about a hose that is kinked to stop the flow and then suddenly released.  Perhaps it flushes out waste products from the area or quickly supplies nutrients and hormones into the area.  We don’t know for sure.

When we wrap a joint, there’s this compression that happens, squeezing the joint tightly.  Combined with movement, the theory is that the Voodoo Band is helping to “center” the joint, approximating the joint in a better position and reinforcing a better pattern of joint movement.

The “pain gating” theory is pretty simple.  The Voodoo Band is tight, giving a predominant sensation through the skin of pressure and stretch, and if it’s applied tightly, it can be a bit painful.  It’s this type of noxious stimulus that may override and block the pain signal, thus creating more freedom of movement.

All the above are basically theories as to how the band works.  We can’t be certain as to which one is true, maybe none of them are true or all of them are true.  But we can’t deny the pre-test and post-test results.  We always test the joint or region before the treatment and then repeat the test after the treatment.  If there is less or no pain after, and there’s more range of motion or flexibility after, then it worked.  Before physiotherapy became so “evidence-based”, we were “anecdotal-based”.  Undoubtedly, as the use of the Voodoo Band increases and it gets more popular, research and scientific evidence will follow, and we’ll find out exactly how it works.  But for now, I’m sticking with the results I see.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.

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