The pandemic of 2020 forced the world indoors, divorcing us from our beloved gyms! And then something else happened: bands. They invaded our homes, kitchens and social media feed.
Everyone was using a variation of the fitness bands. I cannot remember the last time a product shot to fame and ubiquity overnight. But should you band? How effective are they? “For being able to work out wherever you are and being able to do a variety of exercises without needing a lot of equipment and being able to use them no matter what your fitness level, resistance bands are a great piece of equipment to use,” says exercise physiologist Christopher Travers, MS.
Resistance bands originally were used to improve conditioning in nursing home residents. Today, many more exercisers are discovering the advantages of these bands. For one, they’re relatively inexpensive — a decent set costs about $25.
They’re easily adaptable so you can vary your workout on the fly by changing your movements to challenge your muscles in different ways, Travers says. And, the exercise bands allow you to increase or decrease the resistance simply by shortening or lengthening the band.
HOW TO USE THE BANDS?
Resistance bands range from simple, flat therapy bands to flat loop bands and elastic tubing with interchangeable handles that make them more user friendly. Choose a set of bands with varying resistances (tension levels). Usually, the bands are color coded so that the tension increases as the band colors get darker.
The greater the strength that’s required for an exercise, the higher the resistance you’ll need from the band.
For instance, you’ll need more tension for a chest press than a bicep curl, but don’t add too much resistance or you won’t have a smooth range of motion.
Also, consider the types of accessories that come with the bands, such as door attachments or ankle cuffs, and match them with the types of exercise you plan to do.
Wear shoes whenever you use resistance bands. When you connect a band to a door, give it a good tug before you exercise to make sure it’s secure. Importantly, check the bands for signs of wear and tear before each time you use them. “If they’ve been exposed to a lot of sun or cold, they will crack a lot more,” Travers advises. “Try not to overstretch them to get more resistance because that’s what causes the band to snap and can lead to injuries.”
This article originally appeared in https://health.clevelandclinic.org