Resistance bands are a great prop to add to a basic Mat class. It allows for clients to experience resistance from the band which is similar to the springs on the apparatuses within the Pilates repertoire. The band gives an opportunity to replicate many Reformer exercises within a Mat class setting.
The band is designed to either challenge and or assist the upper and lower body in many exercises. For new students, the band can be used to provide support in teaching how to do a Roll Up and a Roll Down. These two essential exercises are prevalent and reoccurring patterns in human movement. One is learning how to articulate and coordinate the abdominals and mobilize the back while the spine moves.
For many people, the anterior shoulder is dominant and poorly organized due to spending time on the computers, smart phones, driving, cooking and other daily tasks. Activating the Posterior Shoulder is a great way to start a proper training structure.
Standing arm exercises with a resistance band are wonderful in strengthening the posterior shoulder and upper back and are a great way to add more arm work within a traditional Pilates Mat class.
Exercises that target this area are great to help counter our often forward flexion based daily posture and instead strengthen the posterior shoulder, upper back, reinforcing good shoulder mechanics. Once the upper back and posterior shoulder are aligned, we can then start working on the anterior shoulder and chest. These upper arm exercises with the resistance band create overall better functional movement for the upper back such as pulling, pushing, straight arm raises and complex multi planar movements which incorporate the whole body.
The lower body is the foundation of where many of the fundamental movement patters are built. The lower body consist of four primary areas: the hip, knee, ankle and foot. These areas are designed to work together for: creating efficient movement patterns, optimizing performance, prevent injury, and recovering from injury.
Adding the resistance band to our basic leg work exercises is important for creating balanced functional leg strength, flexibility and can be used to create resistance in abduction, flexion and extension and to strengthen around the hip.
Clients are encouraged to have their own resistance bands at home to either work between sessions to speed up their progress and or for clients who are recovering from injuries.
Resistance bands come in many colors and materials. As a general rule of thumb, the thinner the material, the lighter the resistance. For the exercises taught, I recommend using a 8' long medium resistance band without handles to be easily used either around the hands and or feet. Tubing with handles is also a nice option to have to provide better hand grip.
Resistance bands must be treated with care and safety, the ends of the bands must be under control at all times and must be regularly inspected for wear and tear.
Wrapping the band around the hand where the tail goes across the palm and is held by the thumb is important. This hand grip actives the posterior shoulder and help stabilize the forearm.
Many people are allergic to latex so please note that there are latex free bands and or tubing available.
Resistance bands and tubing often have an unpredictable life span. Please check for nicks, thin spots, tears, or simply loss of resistance. It's best to replace your band every 3 to 12 months depending on the quality of the band, how often it's been used, exposed to light, air pollution and or chemicals.
Keep the band in control by always maintaining a firm grip before performing the exercises and most importantly, have fun!