Resistance bands aren’t just for losing weight with exercise at the gym. Even though they are becoming more and more popular for losing weight, resistance bands were pioneered in the field of sports medicine and injury recovery. Resistance bands provide some great benefits that cannot be reproduced with weightlifting or cardiovascular exercise. Let’s look at the reasons why they are so popular in these fields.
Before reading, know that you must always consult with your sports physician, coach, doctor, or physical therapist for a resistance band training program that is right for you. Every athlete and injury is different, and any exercise program should not be considered without first consulting a professional.
In sports, there is more focus on practicing certain movements (like a jump shot, slap shot, or a soccer kick) than building large muscles. While athletes always have the desire to be bigger and stronger, complimenting a strength training program with resistance bands helps athletes develop and strengthen the isolated muscles that are often ignored with weight training.
The freedom of movement provided by resistance bands allows athletes to replicate the movements in their sport with tension, not momentum. Trying to replicate these movements with a free weight can be counter-productive, and in some cases, dangerous. The tension from the bands stimulates the muscles used, helping the athlete grow in areas that are not often used in weightlifting.
One example would be the baseball bat swing. You can practice swinging at pitches all day long, but the improvement in power start to become negligible. If you compliment that with a resistance band routine, you start seeing improvements in power and hitting ability. It essentially shocks the isolated muscles that are used in the swing, and some that are not. An example of an exercise to do in this situation would be the wood chop. With one end of the band tied down, you rotate from side to side and stimulate the muscles in the torso that are engaged in taking an axe to a tree, which is similar to the batting motion.
Look at a boxer’s training regime. Boxers are the hardest training athletes in sports. The majority of their workout includes hitting the speed bag and punching bag, but they include resistance bands in their training too. Throwing punches with the resistance band grasped in your hands and around your back stimulates the muscles used in a punch much more than throwing punches into thin air. Bobbing and ducking punches is another motion that is commonly reinforced with resistance bands in boxing.
Training the less-used muscles can increase overall performance and greatly reduces the risk of injury. A baseball pitcher experiences incredible strain on their rotator cuff in the motion of a pitch. The rotator cuff is a muscle that is not directly trained with weight lifting exercises, but it can be isolated and strengthened with resistance bands. Performance from the pitcher improves and the risk of injury decreases, because the rotator cuff is better prepared for the strain of pitching.
Another example is an offensive lineman in football. Their primary motion is pushing forward with their chest and arms. The freedom of movement from resistance bands allows the player to do chest presses in any direction, not just up and down like in a free weight chest press. This better prepares him for motions involved when engaging a player taller or shorter than him.
Injuries happen to everyone, not just athletes. If youâ€™ve suffered nerve damage, then you know how difficult it can be to maintain blood circulation and flexibility within that body part. Physical therapists know that proper blood circulation is one of the keys to recovery, because blood is the vessel that carries the nutrients our body needs. When there is no circulation, there is no life.
How can you circulate blood without intense physical activity that can make an injury even worse? The answer, of course, is resistance bands. Because there is no impact on the joints and bones, patients can exercise with resistance bands with minimal pain, if any at all. This stimulates the blood to flow to the areas being trained, improving recovery time. Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming provide similar benefits.
Anyone and everyone should include resistance bands in their workouts. People who want to lose weight, athletes, and even those that have never been to a gym before can all benefit from resistance band exercise.
Here is the bottom line: Weight training provides strength and power. Cardio makes the heart and lungs stronger. Resistance bands tie it all together and make your body more durable and healthier in the long-run.