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The effect of tissue flossing on ankle range of motion, jump and sprint performance in elite rugby union athletes

The anecdotal use of floss bands amongst athletic populations is becoming a popular strategy to increase joint range of motion (ROM), enhance both injury prevention and rehabilitation and improve overall athletic performance, despite limited evidence for its efficacy. Such a technique has been described as ‘tissue flossing’ and involves wrapping a thick band of rubber (floss band) tightly around a joint or muscle group, to partially occlude blood flow to the area. Recently, research has been conducted regarding the use of tissue flossing to acutely enhance the athletic qualities of ankle mobility and jumping and sprinting performance in a recreationally trained population. Research from our laboratory (see appendices), expanded on this work by investigating the time-course of potential benefits following floss band application, also in recreationally trained athletes. The work in this thesis aimed to add knowledge to current literature and to further investigate the use of tissue flossing for improved sport performance in an elite-athlete setting. The study contained in Chapter 2 of this thesis is the first to investigate the use of tissue flossing on athletic performance in an elite setting. As part of the study, a counterbalanced crossover design was implemented whereby fourteen professional rugby union athletes (age [mean ± SD)] 24 ± 2 years) performed two experimental trials separated by one week. Each trial assessed measures of ankle dorsiflexion using a unilateral weight bearing lunge test (WBLT), bilateral countermovement jump (CMJ) height and 20m sprint times. These assessments were made at baseline and at 5 and 30 minutes following the application of floss bands on both ankles. Analysis revealed that there were no statistically significant interactions between treatment (FLOSS or CON) and time (pre / 5 min post / 30 min post) for any of the measured variables (p > 0.05). Effect size analysis revealed small benefits for the FLOSS condition in comparison to CON for CMJ performance 5 mins post and for 10m and 15m sprint time, 30 mins post. All other measures resulted in trivial or unclear effect sizes. In conclusion, the findings from this study suggest limited support for the use of tissue flossing for improved athletic performance measures, for up to 30 minutes post application in a professional rugby union population.
Type of thesis
Mills, B. S. (2018). The effect of tissue flossing on ankle range of motion, jump and sprint performance in elite rugby union athletes (Thesis, Master of Health, Sport and Human Performance (MHSHP)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12017
The University of Waikato
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