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Self-Recovery Tools – Part 4 – Resistance Bands

There are many different types of tools that an individual can use as a self-massage recovery tool. Self-recovery is extremely important to aid in advancing an athlete’s performance ability.

When muscles are used in everyday life and exercise, the connective tissue within the muscles and joints becomes fatigued and tight. This leads to decreased circulation, decreased nutrient uptake, and can become painful and uncomfortable. If muscles and soft tissue are not properly addressed, it can lead to trigger points or muscular ‘knots’ which can become extremely painful and restrict range of motion. A spikey ball allows the user to self-massage in the comfort of their own home with the ability to adjust pressure as needed.


Resistance Bands

What is it?

Resistance bands are elastic strips/bands/loops that are commonly used in exercise and rehabilitation. Resistance bands is an extremely versatile piece of equipment that can aid in rehabilitation, recovery, activating and toning muscles, building strength, and increasing flexibility. Resistance bands, also known as TheraBand’s or physio bands, are most well known for their use in recovery, rehabilitation, and flexibility as they don’t put any unnecessary load or forces on the spine or joints. Resistance bands can allow for a deeper, more effective stretch, therefore, increasing flexibility.

Resistance bands come in a variety of thickness’, colours, and styles. All have various purposes and needs within the area of recovery, rehabilitation, and exercise.

To gain strength and muscle an individual must use the muscle through the concentric (Shortening) and eccentric (lengthening) phase while under tension. A resistance band works as they allow the working muscle to be under constant tension throughout the concentric and eccentric phase of the movement, while keeping the movement more controlled than similar exercises with free weights – this forces the muscles to adapt to the constant resistance and therefore, muscular growth occurs.  


How is it used?

Resistance bands is a great piece of equipment as it is extremely versatile, light and affordable. Resistance bands are most well known to aid in recovery and rehabilitation from injury. The bands are extremely easy to use and there are many ways to use them that are very safe and effective.

Using the correct form/position when using the bands to move through full range of motion is very important. The band will allow for tension to be applied to the muscle while moving through the full range of motion in a controlled and safe manner, creating load on the muscles that can aid in reforming and reorganising muscle fibres that have become disorganised and weakened due to injury, excessive exercise or fatigue.

When using the band for recovery – Resistance bands are great at deepening the stretch in large muscle groups e.g. legs and back. Post-exercise is a very important time to stretch to allow the muscles to lengthen after having to continually contact throughout a session. Stretching after exercise can aid in decreasing chance of injury and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), as well as improving performance ability and flexibility. To use a resistance band to aid in stretching, simply locate the muscle you want to stretch and use the band to recreate what you would do with your hands. For example, to stretch your hamstrings, half the band and Loop the band around your foot. Grab either side of the band and pull the band to create tension. Straighten the leg and then try and pull your toes towards your body to feel the stretch along the back of your leg. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds and then switch sides.

When using for activation/toning – Warm up the area with a dynamic warmup to increase the range of motion and activate the muscle groups that you will be exercising. Dynamic warmups using a resistance band will prepare the muscle and nervous system for movement and will also reinforce correct technique and muscle structure. For example, to ready the glutes for exercise, tie the resistance band around your knees and crab walk (bend down into a squat and move your feet together and apart while stepping) focussing on pushing your knees against the resistance bands. Repeat for 15-20 reps to ensure the glutes and quads are activated and ready for exercise.


Instructions:

Resistance bands can be used in many ways and for many different reasons. The best way to learn how to use them correctly is to talk to your physiotherapist, massage therapist, personal trainer or even watching YouTube videos.

Please note – When using resistance bands, there are a few things you need to remember to ensure you avoid injury:

  • Evenly distribute your weight when using the resistance bands while standing
  • Use the appropriate resistance for you!
  • Ensure your hips and shoulders are aligned (feet should be hip width apart) when standing
  • STRETCH! Stretch before and after use to avoid injury.

Types of Resistance Bands:

Resistance bands come in a large variety of all shapes, sizes, colours, and resistance levels. Each type can be used for different workouts.

  • Therapy Bands – Mainly used for rehabilitation and stretching as they are easily manipulated to provide gentle aid. These bands are long strips of the bands, cut to the size needed.
  • Loop Bands – Resistance bands that are connected in a loop or circle shape. These bands are often used to target larger muscle groups when exercising (such as, glutes, thighs, arms and back).
  • Figure 8 – Shorter in length and has foam handle on either end to aid in ease and comfort of use. It is often used for strength training, rehabilitation, and conditioning.
  • Tube Bands – Hollow, rubber tubes that may/may not have handles on the end. They can be used for strength and conditioning training, rehabilitation or stretching.

How to choose your Resistance Band:

It is easy to choose a resistance band to use. The thicker the resistance band, the harder the resistance. Choose a band thickness that is appropriate for your individual needs, fitness level and exercise experience.

If you are still unsure – start with a light resistance (super elastic) band and increase the level as you progress.


Possible Benefits:

  • Safe to use for all ages
  • Inexpensive
  • Light weight and easy to store
  • Extremely portable 
  • Increases range of motion
  • Increases fat burn
  • Increase strength, tone and muscle growth
  • Lengthen muscle fibres to increase flexibility
  • Increase muscular endurance
  • Improve mobility
  • Improve gait function (walking and running efficiency)
  • Assist in completing difficult exercises (especially post-injury)
  • Increase and aid in efficiency of stretching
  • Supports bone health and growth by encouraging cell growth to increase bone density
  • Resistance bands don’t apply pressure to the muscles (the way weights do) which keeps joints and muscles safe
  • Resistance can be safely applied throughout full range of motion with no risk of “maxing out” or locking as can happen with weight training
  • Support coordination by allowing the individual to control the tension applied to your muscles – repeating this controlled movement can aid in increasing coordination and balance in many different muscle groups.
  • Allows you to work almost every muscle in the body – Resistance bands are extremely versatile and allow for a variety of exercises to be performed.
  • An individual can perform a similar workout to what they would be able to do with free weights in a safer manner.

Written and published By Rose Mercieca 30/10/2020

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