Exercise bands, also known as resistance bands, stretch, work-out or flex bands, are one of the most portable, versatile and low-tech pieces of exercise equipment you can have. They provide adjustable resistance for both stretch and strength exercises.
How do I choose the right band? Make sure that the band is long enough. It is better to get tangled in the band than to have one that doesn’t allow you full range of motion. A rule of thumb: Get a band length within 8 inches of your height. Most of the ribbon style bands are made of latex. If you are allergic to latex, opt for latex-free bands.
Get the right resistance level for you. Exercise bands are often sold in packs with different levels of resistance, and I think this is a good way to go. For Pilates, the resistance levels are usually in the mid-range — medium to medium-heavy.
Here are some example exercises;
Biceps Curl- Begin this exercise by standing, or lying down, with your feet on the middle of the resistance band, the ends of the band held in either hand so that there is no slack in the band. The palms of your hands should be facing forward if standing, upward if lying down. Slowly bend your elbows, keeping the muscles in your arms tight. As your hands get close to your chest, you should feel increased resistance from the band and a resulting increase in muscle tension in your biceps. After reaching your chest, return to your initial position with your hands at your sides. Also perform this exercise for 6 to 10 repetitions.
Single Leg Extension- While still on your back with your legs outstretched, bring your left knee up to your chest and position the resistance band again behind the arch of your foot. Hold each end of the band in your hand, taking up any slack in the band, and extend your leg upwards and then slowly back down to your chest. Repeat this motion between six and 10 times, first on the left leg and then on the right.
And we all know how much we like the ‘Stretches’ part of our class don’t we?! Here are some example stretches
PILATES LEG CIRCLES WITH A BAND:
Position – Lying on your back with one leg extended on the mat. Hook the band around one foot and extend the leg straight up until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg.
Movement – Keeping the pelvis and opposite leg stable and anchored to the mat circle the leg with the band around in the hip socket 6 times each direction.
Inhale as you begin the circle and exhale as you bring the leg
back to centre. Switch legs and repeat.
Cues: Keep the body still and feel the top of the thigh bone (femur) circle in the hip socket feeling the stretch in the thighs and work in the pelvis to stabilize.
Chest Stretch with Exercise Band
Position – Lying on your back with knees bent or legs extended, holding the band shoulder width reaching to the ceiling above your chest.
Movement – Exhale as you draw the shoulder blades together pulling the exercise band across your chest.
Arms reach wide out to the sides of your chest. Inhale as you reach the arms back up controlling the tension of the band.
Cues – Feel the shoulder blades doing the work, drawing together as you pull and apart as you reach back up to the ceiling.