A Physical Therapist Explains Why Resistance Bands Shouldn’t Be Used For Stretching

When gyms closed in early March, I stocked up on affordable fitness equipment that I could easily store in my tiny New York City apartment. Resistance bands quickly became the MVP of that category — and also in all my at-home workouts.

I've used them around my ankles during jump squats to burn out my quads, for intense booty workouts, and even for tricep toning with kickbacks.

I'm definitely getting my money's worth, but I was curious if I was missing out on yet another use for my beloved bands: stretching. And I'm glad I asked an expert before rolling out my yoga mat! According to Tara Hackney, PT, DPT, OCS, KTTP, from Athletico Cedar Rapids, a stretchy resistance band truly isn't the best tool for at-home stretching.

"For static stretching, which can help with gaining flexibility by holding the stretch for longer durations, I recommend a strap that is stiffer and not as flexible," Hackney says.

With a stiffer strap — like a yoga strap, for example — you don't have to work as hard to hold the stretch as you would with a springy band.

Therefore, with a stiff stretching band, Hackney explains "you can focus on relaxing the muscle you are focusing on and achieving the best stretch."

If you already have a yoga strap, you can get started on expanding your stretch routine with these three stretches from Hackney.

Not sure if the tool you have works well for assisted stretching? Reach out to your doctor, medical professional, or certified personal trainer for advice.

Hamstring Stretch

  • Lie on your back with a loop around one foot.
  • Using your arms and the strap, lift your leg until a stretch is felt in the back of the leg.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 reps per leg.
  • Additionally, you can position the leg more medially across your body or more laterally/externally rotated to feel a stretch more on the inner or outer portion of the leg.

Quad Stretch

  • Lying on your stomach with the loop around the foot, bend your knee, trying to bring your heel as close to your buttock as you can until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh (quad).
  • Hold for 30 seconds. Complete 2-3 reps.

Pec Stretch/Chest Stretch

  • Hold the strap in each hand above your head — hands will be wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Bring your hands down to behind the head by bending your elbows, but while maintaining tension on the strap.
  • You should feel a stretch across the front of the chest and armpit area.
  • Hold for 30 seconds. Complete 2-3 reps.

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