Stretch Band Exercises
Ok so you have a length of stretch band. Here are some ideas as to how to use it to improve your posture, strength, and flexibility.
Breathing exercises and hydrates the spine.
Your ribs insert onto your squishy inter vertebral discs,while also articulating with the vertebrae. The upward and out movement the ribs make when you breathe not only makes your spine lengthen up, as they pull on the discs, but also creates a vacuum in the discs – which makes the discs soak up available fluid. So, breathing exercises and hydrates your spine, as well as providing your body with the right balance of gases. You can see then, that poor breathing patterns lead to a stiffened and poorly hydrated spine, and less than optimal performance in all physiological systems.
You can use the band to give you a reference for your breathing.
It's useful then to determine where you do most of your breathing. The shape of your rib cage gives you a big clue here.
Your rib cage shape is determined by where your breathe. The ideal shape is a slightly compressed circle,and this reflects a balanced breathing pattern : the breath goes laterally into the ribs, backwards into the back, forwards into the chest wall, and deeply into the diaphragm (and from there into the abdominal wall).
Generally people with a flattened, and arched rib cage breathe laterally, but not so well into their back, between their shoulder blades.
Those with a round rib cage may breathe abdominally,or into their upper chests,but not so well into the sides of the ribs.
Place the band around your ribs, fairly tightly, and breathe in and out. Start with the band low on your spare or, floating ribs,then take it up to the abdominal ribs, and finally up to the ribs on the level of your heart. Are you breathing well on all three levels? How much breath is going between your shoulder blades? Place your hand on your belly - how much breathing is going on there?
One mistake that has been made over the years with Pilates is to forbid people to breathe into the abdomen. Your stomach muscles are part of your breathing apparatus. If you walk around with your belly button pulled into your spine the whole time, your spine will be stiff, and your breathing hampered.
To help shoulder mobility,and to practice posture.
You may need to adjust the band length.
Be in a good standing position. Hold the band at your hips between your thumbs and forefingers.
Breathe in and lift the band until your shoulders and chest feel stretched.
Breathe out and lower the band to your forehead. Your elbows, shoulders and hands are at ninety degrees.
Breathe in and lift.
Breathe out and lower the band behind your head if you can, maintaining elbow angle, and DON'T MOVE YOUR HEAD.
Breathe in and raise the band.
Breathe out and lower to starting position.
If you need to move your head, don't,but instead lower the band to start position
You need enough band here to be able to perform the exercise WITHOUT MOVING YOUR HEAD OR CHEST, but not so much that you can't feel a stretch.
On the inhale, lift band
On the exhale, stretch the band and lower it behind you.
On the inhale, repeat from behind.
Stand on the middle of the band, holding the ends in each hand.
Keep the elbows fixed ie the upper arm does not move,
Breathe out to bend the elbow, breathe in to straighten.
Triceps - seat belt fastening
To tone bingo wings
Put your right arm behind your back,between your shoulder blades,and hold one end of the band. Bring the band over your right shoulder,and hold onto it with your left hand,close to the front of your right shoulder.
Breathing out, pull the band down to your left hip,keeping close to your body, as if doing up a seat belt. Breathe in to take it back.
To tone the arms, to breathe.
This exercise uses the 100 breathing.
Start with the band close to the hips,and check the tension,by pulling on both ends. Then take 20 breaths in the following positions -
- down by the hips,
- at waist height
- above the head
- low, behind the waist
- high, behind the waist
To mobilise the spine,and strengthen tummy and hip flexors. You can use the bands around the soles of your feet to help with your roll-backs.Make sure that your arms stay long and shoulders and neck stay relaxed. (As an alternative,a small cushion placed under the small of the back works wonders.).
To strengthen the arms, core (you will feel that particularly in the presses), stomach muscles.
Rollback half way with the band - then take 6 of each of the following
- bicep curls (elbows stay fixed)
- flies (softly bent arms) - arms stay at shoulder height and open away from each other
- presses - take the band down to the floor, and back
Knee circles - to mobilise the hip joints. Pick up one knee and place the band over the knee, with the lower leg relaxed. Circle 6 times in each direction, keeping the upper body relaxed.
Leg stretches Keep left knee bent, foot on the floor and place the band over the right foot. Keep neutral pelvis for all three stretches. Hamstring stretch - raise the right leg and extend your leg high, , till you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Release the stretch and repeat 6 times. Inner thigh stretch - take the leg out to the right, as close to the floor and to your right shoulder as you can. Outer thigh stretch - take the leg across the body. Change leg and repeat Now, remembering the ends of your range of movements, and keeping your pelvis still, (use the opposite gluteal muscles), take 6 leg circles with the band in each direction.
To strengthen the medial gluteals, which will strengthen and balance the hip joints.
Lying on your side,with the band tied fairly tightly around your knees, open the knee on the exhale. Keep the heels connected and pressed together.