Voodoo Floss bands and lacrosse balls for mobility self therapy
Before I launch into the final installment of elbow issues for shooters, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to all those emailed and posted with suggestions for healing and their well wishes. I apologize for not being able to respond to all of the posts and emails, but I definitely take note of all of the advice which has been offered. This last article (for now, anyway) will go over some of the tools which I use to assist in self therapy.
The first important piece of kit for elbow pain management is a simple neoprene sleeve such as the one seen in the pic from the last article. A neoprene wrap does not inhibit mobility and helps keep the joint compressed and warm during activity. I typically wear one when I am shooting or handling firearms for any period of time. I have had better luck with this type of wrap than those pressure pad style bands which wrap around the forearm and stick a small gel pad on a theoretical problem spot on the arm. I have seen this work for some buddies, but the gel pad only provides a localized effect and does not help the rest of the joint. I found mine a waste of time and ended up throwing it away.
The next item has been an absolute game changer, and I must thank my long time friend Jeff Gonzales from Trident Concepts for turning me on to Voodoo Floss. I have included several links below for resources from Dr. Kelly Starrett, who is a key proponent of the Voodoo Floss bands. These elastic rubber bands are used to wrap and compress the problem joint. After wrapping, work the joint through the full range of motion, then remove the band. The combination of wrapping/compression, movement, and the rush of blood flow to the joint area has a restorative effect on range of movement and function. I had gotten to a plateau using just the strength development regimen from the previous article, and actually seemed to be regressing a bit when I attempted to PT hard in conjunction with the strength exercises. Adding in a daily pre-workout regimen with the Voodoo Floss, which I am able to do alone in about 5 minutes, has boosted my joint function and reduced the pain significantly. While I am not pain free, I can say with certainty that Voodoo Floss alone has done more for my elbow issues than all of other other modalities combined.
In addition to the Voodoo Floss, my daily joint therapy kit includes a pair of lacrosse balls. After flossing, I lay one ball on the ground, put my forearm on it, then press the other ball directly over the first ball, basically sandwiching the tight area of my forearm between the two lacrosse balls. This has been a very effective way to massage the forearms, and gets deeper than the foam roller I previously used.
ArmAid with optional orange massage ball installed.
A local LEO whom I’d met a several classes turned me onto the final secret weapon in my elbow therapy arsenal, the ArmAid. This nutcracker looking device allows you to stick your arm through the center of it and use your other hand to close the arms and provide pressure for massaging your forearm. It allows attachment of various rollers, and I use the orange deep tissue roller ball which provides good results. I use this device to provide additional relief after workouts or other elbow aggravating activity.
As caveated before, I am not a physical therapist, but I have been down this long road and hope that sharing my pain will help readers get a better handle on theirs. I have often been asked what I might have done differently to prevent all of the problems that I have now. I would suggest adding strengthening and mobility work into your training regimen in order to improve and prolong your time behind the gun or in the gym. Your elbows will thank you!
Youtube: Dr. Kelly Starrett explaining Voodoo Floss
Voodoo Floss at Rogue Fitness, with Youtube link to Kelly Starrett fixing a sore elbow