Resistance bands are a versatile piece of strength and flexibility training. Often people forget about utilizing resistance bands or tubing because they associate it with rehabilitation settings. When used properly, resistance bands can be as effective as lifting weights and can also be used to assist with stretching techniques. Resistance bands are also affordable and take up little space. Portability of resistance bands make them ideal to travel with and store if space is limited.
1. Decide whether you prefer traditional bands or tubing with hands.
The tubing is often more comfortable on the hands because of the handles, but is more challenging to adjust resistance. Traditional bands can more easily be adjusted and lay fl at against the body. They can also be tied to create loops or anchors depending on type of exercise.
2. Determine the appropriate resistance.
Exercises should be performed through a full range of motion and with control. If the exercise seems easy, there may not be enough resistance. If the band is causing snap back and there is a lack of control, the band may have too much resistance. Some of this can be adjusted through changes in hand placement and distance from an anchor point. Many companies will also list a weight equivalent on the packaging. For example, a band may be the equivalent of lifting eight pounds.
3. Always check resistance bands for signs of wear and tear before use.
Do not use a resistance band if there is cracking or shredding. Also, avoid bands that are overly sticky or feel dried out (especially near the handles on tubing). All of these conditions can lead to snapping of the bands and possible injury.
4. Begin exercise with slight resistance on the band.
The band should not be sagging or loose. This helps maintain proper placement of the band and allows for resistance throughout the entire range of motion. Perform each exercise in a slow, controlled manner – avoiding jerky movements and recoil of the band. Exercises which can be performed using resistance bands include: squat, lunge, hip abduction, chest press, pecfly, upright and bent over row, lateral raise, and shoulder press.
5. Resistance bands can also be beneficial for improving flexibility.
Resistance bands serve as an assistive tool to maintain proper body alignment when correct body positioning could not otherwise be achieved. An example of this is the hamstring stretch. The goal is to reach the toes on the stretching leg. A resistance band can be looped around the foot and then gently pulled to enhance the stretch and help further range of motion. Once flexibility in the joint has improved, the band can be taken away. Be sure to listen to the body and ease into stretches to prevent injury.