Feel fab with 5 fantastic stretches using resistance bands
Posted March 2, 2012
Sitting a lot locks you up in weird places like your armpits, side walls of your ribcage, and deep groin muscles. Other obvious lock-ins include your neck, chest/arm junction, hip flexors, and shoulder blades.
Just writing that I utter “Ouch!”
You’re not alone, we’ve all experienced it. You can feel the heaviness in your joints. Simple moves like crossing your legs is like lifting a bowling ball with your foot. Since most of the work you do is downwards your 9 pound head leans in and is pulled in that direction. The space in your armpits is reduced, your ribcage walls rarely get to expand, and that’ll get your neck screaming in no time.
Getting up and walking around sure feels better. Stretching like you’ve just gotten out of bed feels relieving. Doing doorway push throughs gets you only so far in abating your discomfort.
How about if you could take those delicious stretches and natural feel good moves a couple notches up? Feeling so fab, you’ll wonder why nobody told you this before!
Resistance bands rock because they’re portable, versatile, simple, and practical.
And, they’re not limited to just strengthening. They’re awesome in being the resistance that you stretch against.
Today I want to share with you a secret about bands that hardly anyone talks about. And if they are talking about them, they’re not showing it this way.
Remember, it’s more than “getting flexible.” Making flexibility part of your overall program sounds great because that’s what everyone tells you to do. The stretches you’ll do with bands will help you feel better because you’re opening up tight joints, junky spaces, and constricted caverns where little blood supply traverses openly.
While being able to move through the full range of motion at your joints sounds like a million dollars, it may not be realistic because of injuries, overuse, arthritis, or over doing it years ago. That’s okay. The meat of the matter is in how you’ll use the bands to reach into and release.
You can do things like making it a moving stretch or stretching move. Either way it opens up the dam you’ve created being locked into your chair, car or train seat. (some of you experience all 3 lock-ins daily).
Here are 5 fantastic stretches using resistance bands. I’ve included a video below that shows these moves. Once you learn them, you’ll be able to explore beyond the basics because you’ll have an understanding of using the resistance to reach and release.
Arm & Chest Unlocker
Grab the band handle and stand sideways to the band. Your nearest arm will be the one we use. Take your whole body and pivot in the opposite direction. This reaches that junction where your arm meets your shoulder. Simply unlocking this tightness can make you smile.
Leaning Forward Armpit Opener
Facing the band, hold onto the handle and bend forward at your hips. You’ll be close to parallel to the floor. This opens up the space in your armpit which releases its tightly held connection to the muscles beneath. You’ll feel the difference in just making this space available. Notice two other places to feel this stretch: your low back and the back of your upper thighs. Delish.
Again stand sideways to the band but this time it will be your further arm that we use. Take the band and bring it over head so that your body is in exact line with where the band comes from. Now lean your body sideways in that direction. Your ribcage sidewalls open up like an accordion. This is like that morning stretch you do but with a little resistance to go further. Feel the release of the ribs.
Grab the band handle and walk away from the band about 6 feet. There are 2 parts to this. I’ll describe them separately, but when you do the move try to do it together so that your body can adjust accordingly to the amount of tension that feels best. First, hold the band close to your body and step back into a lunge. Don’t go far at first, just enough to get a split stance with your legs. Then with the hand that you have the band in raise your arm above your head. So you’ll be using the same side arm and leg in this move. Balance yourself with the opposite hand on your forward thigh. This is a large move so experiment with your range. Talk about a monstrous move that maximizes the space on one side!
You’ll need both bands for this. Face away, grab them behind you and walk out about 6 feet. You’ll be holding onto the bands and they will be behind you so your palms will be facing down. Immediately you will feel the effect of this stretch. It opens up your chest, engages your shoulder blades, and expands the ribcage. It’s a triple whammy. Breathe into that space that you’ve created.
When doing any of these, keep in mind your individual issues with shoulders, back, and neck especially. Reach only into the range of motion that you’re comfortable. Pushing beyond that, even if you “think” it will feel good, isn’t a smart stretch.
Gotta go grab me band and make my warrior wonderful!
Lisa Byrne is the owner and CEO of Pilates for Sport in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She has a B.S. in Exercise Physiology, and is a Certified Pilates Instructor. Lisa has been in the Health and Fitness Industry for more than 23 years, operating her fully-equipped Pilates studio since 1999. Visitors to the movement studio span a wide range of physiques and abilities, and include average boomers looking for diversity; young people with Asperger's-Autism; hard-core athletes looking to “loosen up”; and those in need of chronic pain management through movement. Lisa’s website is MoveMoreToday.com.