Theroband – What is it and what does it do?
Thera-Band® is a brand of exercise equipment that is used in a wide range of health services. Thera-Band product lines include latex bands, exercise balls, rubber tubing as well as various other rehabilitation and stretching tools. The Thera-Band brand of exercise products is among the most respected in the rehabilitation and exercise training field. One of the most valuable range of products are the Thera-Band resistance bands and exercise straps. The resistance bands allow exercises to be performed in a similar manner to a cable or free weight, where the path of the movement is determined by the user. This is opposite a resistance training machine where the movement pattern is often fixed and can sometimes be problematic if designed poorly. This can be advantageous as it promotes the use of stabilizing and synergist muscles to complete the movement.
The number of resistance and rehabilitation exercises that can be done with Thera-Band products is enormous. While a new resistance training machine may be needed for every different movement pattern, Thera-Band straps and tubing can be attached to any fixed, stable structure and movements of almost kind can be performed. They are easy to setup and provide a useful alternative to machines or cable weights in movements that may be otherwise difficult to replicate with resistance. They can also be used in addition to a regular resistance training program that consists of free weights, cables and machines. For example, Thera-Bands could be used for an athlete looking to improve his/her explosive pressing or jumping movements.
For advanced exercisers, they can be used to alter the ‘strength curve’, so that where a movement might normally be easy at the top of a movement (like a pushup) – as the band stretches more it gets more difficult. So the movement is challenging throughout the full range of motion.
Some common exercises include internal or external shoulder rotations for shoulder rehabilitation, squat + press, rows, chest or overhead presses.
There is a large range of intensity that these exercises can be performed at due to the varying resistance of both the colours (the ‘light’ yellow band up to the ‘heavy’ gold and silver bands) and distance in which you stretch the band. For example, a gold band stretched to 250% of its original length equates to a resistance of 40 pounds. On top of this, multiple bands can be used simultaneously in order to get just the right resistance for the individual and the movement being undertaken.
Though Thera-Band straps and tubing are very versatile and safe when used correctly, care needs to be taken as there is a risk of them breaking when stretched too far. Stretching a band over 300% of its resting length greatly increases the chance of failure and bands should be checked frequently for cracks or breaking of the tubing. Latex and non-latex varieties are also available for those with allergies.
Overall, Thera-band straps and tubing can be a valuable addition to any resistance training program, whether for overall health or pre- / rehabilitation exercises. They provide resistance in movement patterns otherwise difficult to perform with cables or machines. Their versatility in being able to perform many different exercises by simply changing the anchor point is a cheap alternative to large amount of machines that would be needed to perform the same movements, while yielding similar results.