Improve Flexibility By Stretching With Resistance Bands
by Evelyn Valdez·
There's always so much focus on working out that we often forget all the little things that also help us reach our fitness goals. Stretching is one of them.
People sometimes undervalue stretching, but it's important for our flexibility and mobility and improves our performance in strength training and other fitness activities. Some stretches require assistance from a personal trainer. We see this frequently with professional athletes. But the average bodybuilder can do many easy stretch exercises all on their own using resistance bands.
Why Do We Need to Stretch After Working Out?
It might be tempting to just lay on the couch and relax after a heavy workout, but it's one of the worst things you can do for your body. You'll often hear how you should cool down once you've finished exercising, and there are reasons why you need to do it.
Stretching your entire body post-workout:
- Lowers lactic acid buildup- Every time we workout, the body produces lactic acid that causes the muscles to become fatigued and sore. It won't affect you for long, but stretching will increase circulation and bring more oxygen to the muscles, which reduces lactic acid production.
- Improves posture- We do a lot of things that can ruin our posture, whether we're aware of it or not. However, poor posture can lead to unnecessary pain and soreness, especially in the shoulders, neck, and lower back. Strengthening and stretching specific muscles has been shown to encourage better alignment and minimize musculoskeletal pain.
- Limits muscle and joint strain- Sore muscles are a standard almost any time you workout or engage in other forms of physical activity. While stretching doesn't eradicate all the pain you might be feeling, it definitely helps minimize it.
- Reduces the risk of injury- Probably the most important reason to stretch is to protect yourself from getting hurt. When your muscles are short and tight, they won't be able to handle intense levels of activity and puts you at risk for strains, muscle tears, and joint pain. Having flexible muscles and strong mobility supports your health as you get older and reduces overall tension in your body.
Stretching is great for your body even when you aren't training. Consider this: if you sit at a desk all day, your body is staying in one position for several hours. Research has proven that sitting for too long can cause tight hamstrings, weakened glutes, tension in the upper body, and soreness in the lower back. When we stretch, we're protecting our muscles and joints so we can avoid injuries and maintain our range of motion.
Are There Different Types of Band Stretches?
There are two main ways you can stretch:
Dynamic stretches last about 1 to 5 seconds and are often done as warm-up movements. While you don't want to stretch too much before your workout, it's still recommended to do some short stretches to loosen up your joints.
Static stretching is performed after you're done exercising. These are stretches you'll hold for a longer length of time to help lengthen your muscles and relieve tension.
How Can Stretching with Resistance Bands Help with Flexibility?
If you want to take your range of motion and flexibility to a new level, you need to use resistance bands. You gain total control over the amount of tension in your muscles and can move into positions you never could before. They also give you that deep stretch you want to feel after kicking butt in the gym. Many physical therapists use them too to help patients recover from an injury.
Another benefit is that you can use bands with different resistance levels to increase the intensity of the stretch. There are light bands for beginners all the way to super heavy for advanced bodybuilders and athletes. Not only that, but investing in a set of resistance bands will help you beyond warm ups! You can use bands for home workouts, use them to create supersets, or combine them with free weights to add an extra challenge to your usual workout routine!
Best Resistance Band Stretches
When you develop a stretch routine, you'll want to include stretches that target different areas of your body. Do some research and figure out the best stretches for each muscle group. We've also gone ahead compiled a list below with a few stretches you'll definitely love.
Before you start stretching, here are some tips to remember:
- ALWAYS stop if the stretch gets painful. There should be some slight tension, but never pain. You don't want to pull something or cause a muscle strain.
- Try holding each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. You're the best judge of what your body can handle, but you still want to get the full benefit of the stretch.
- Make sure you're stretching at least two to three times a week, if not daily. You want to compound the effects of stretching regularly so you continue to maintain your level of flexibility, mobility, and range of motion.
Now that you're ready, grab a long resistance band in the appropriate resistance level for you and let's get started!
Lower Body Stretches
Inner Thigh Stretch
- Lie down on a mat and loop the band around your right or left foot, then bend the opposite leg.
- Pull your leg out to the side using the resistance band and lower it towards the floor as far as you can. Don't push past your limit. You can use your free hand to support your leg if needed.
- Bring your leg back up and down and switch sides.
- Lie flat on your back and wrap the band around the bottom of your right foot and bend your left leg for stabilization.
- Grab onto the band with both hands and gently bring your right leg down towards you. Flex your foot and straighten your leg as much as you can without lifting your hips off the floor. You can also tighten the resistance band by grabbing it closer to your foot to add more tension to the stretch.
- Release your leg back down and switch to stretch your other leg.
- Lie straight on the ground and extend one leg out in front. Loop the resistance band around the opposite foot.
- Pull your leg across your body and lower down as much as possible. Make sure your shoulders don't lift up from the floor.
- Hold the stretch and repeat with the other leg.
- Kneel down like you're going into a lunge. Keep your right or left leg at a 90-degree angle.
- Wrap the resistance band around your back foot and place your hand on your bent knee.
- Gently pull your banded foot towards your glutes until you feel the stretch in your front thigh. Squeeze your glutes to deepen the movement.
- Hold for at least 25 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Upper Body Stretches
- Using a large loop band, take it in both hands and hold your arms out straight in front of you.
- Slowly pull your arms out to your sides as far as you can and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Adjust your hands as needed to change the tension in the band.
- Wrap a long resistance band around the back of your head and hold one end of the band in each hand.
- Tuck your chin and gently pull the band down to stretch the back of your neck.
- Hold for at least 10 seconds and do another two or three reps.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take the long loop band and step your left foot through to stand on it.
- Grab the other end with your left hand. Extend your arm up and over your head and bend to the side.
- Bring your arm back down and then stretch the right side of your body.
Relieve Your Body of Muscle and Joint Pain
If you suffer from chronic pain or are working around an injury, make sure you make adjustments to your stretches as needed. A physical therapist or professional fitness trainer are good resources for any questions about alternative exercises to improve your flexibility.
And if you don't have a set of resistance bands - we got you covered! UPPPER Long and Short Resistance Bands are available in various resistance levels, and are designed with comfort and durability in mind. All bands are made with a custom fabric blend, and are available in various colors and designs - for all your stretching and workout needs!
>> Shop UPPPER <<