Exercise loops can be a diverse piece of equipment as they can be used to strengthen the whole body or to assist with various exercises. They come in a variety of different resistances ranging from 5LBs up to 150LBs, which are easily identified by both the colour and diameter of the band itself.
Stretching can be another area of exercise where these bands can be useful. The length of the band lends itself to reaching limbs that are just out of reach in static stretching, or by providing slight resistance when doing dynamic or PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretching. These loops can also come in handy when trying to provide traction to certain joints, which provides some stretching to soft tissues around the joint while providing a sense of relief in the joint itself.
Fold the loop in half, standing on one leg, loop the band around the free foot and draw the foot towards the glutes. Try to keep your knees together and level. If you do not feel a stretch in the quads, try to tuck the pelvis by engaging the glutes. Hold the stretch 15-30 seconds, alternate legs for a total of 2 times each leg.
Wrap the band around something sturdy so that the elastic has two handles, grasp a handle with each hand. Step backwards until the arms are straight but not locked and round the upper back. The stretch should be felt between the shoulder blades and lower armpit region. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, breathing continuously, relax and repeat once more.
Sitting on the floor with legs extended straight in front of you, wrap the band around the bottom of the foot with one portion over the ball of the foot. Grasp the band in each hand and draw the band toward you by bending the elbows, while maintaining a straight back. With this stretch be sure to keep the balls of your feet facing toward the wall or directly away from you. You should feel the stretch primarily in the calves. Hold for 15-30 seconds, release and then stretch again for a total of 2 times.
4. Gluteal Dynamic Stretch
Sitting with knees bent, loop the band around the left thigh, while holding the band lay on your back and cross your right ankle over your left knee. While keeping the right knee open to the side, gently draw the band and thigh toward your face while keeping the pelvis firmly on the ground. Try to relax the head on the ground or have a small support beneath the head like a towel to keep the spine in neutral. Hold 15-30 seconds, switch sides and do it twice each leg.
5. Deep Squat with Balance Aid
Wrap the band around something secure. Have a wide stance with the feet slightly pointed outward. Go into a deep squat while pulling the band toward you. The back should be straight throughout the movement. If you wish you can do a slight flossing movement at the bottom of the squat, then return to standing. Repeat 5-8 times.
6. Banded Pigeon PNF Stretch
Secure band around a secure object, insert your right leg into the loop and bring it to hip height. Lower down onto hands and knees and walk the heel of the right foot toward your left wrist while extending the left leg behind you. Gently floss toward and away from the band being careful not to strain your right knee. You can lower the upper body down to your elbows to increase the stretch. Rock toward and away for 15-30 seconds, return to hands and knees then repeat. Be sure to do the second side.
7. Hamstring PNF Stretch
Secure band around the right heel, figure of 8 would be best. Lying on the floor with the left leg either bent or straight. Extend the right leg until the knee is straight. Tighten the band and start to push your leg toward the opposite wall while pulling the band toward you. Relax both the band and the push and return to the starting position. Repeat push and pull action a total of five times and repeat on the other leg.
8. Hip Flexor Dynamic Stretch
Secure the band around a sturdy object, step into the loop and position around hips. Kneel down on a towel, foam or something to protect the knees and step one leg out to just over 90 degrees. Move the hips forward until you feel a stretch at the front of your thigh and gently floss the hips forward and back, continue for 15-30 seconds on the right leg then repeat on the left leg, complete this twice on each leg.
9. T-Spine Traction
Loop the band around something tall and sturdy and secure it, this object needs to be strong enough that when you pull downward that it will not fall down on you, a squat rack can work well for this. Pull the loop down on either side of your torso until you have a flat part of the band resting against the upper spine. Bend the knees and round the back into the band and allow the band to hold you and let the tissues traction lightly against the band. Stand up and readjust the band to another segment area and bend knees and relax into the band again. Hold for 15-30 seconds each; make sure you are breathing throughout.
Secure the loop around something sturdy, laying on the floor wrap the end of the loop around the top of the foot and scoot away until there is slight tension. Keeping the toes toward the sky, lay down and allow the muscles to relax. You should feel a slight drawing down of the leg toward the band. Hold for 15-30seconds
Stretching is an important part of maintaining good overall health and wellness. Using an exercise loop will help you achieve a deeper, more meaningful stretch. You can add these ten great suggestions to your weekly exercise routine as part of your warm up, cool down routine or even on your rest days.