What is Resistance Band Training? How Can It Help Runners?
Many runners do not realize that strength training is an important part of their exercise routine, or even if they do, it’s tough to figure out which workouts should be added and how often. There is certainly a lot of information out there regarding what is best for the health of a runner’s body, so in this article, we are going to dive a little deeper into resistance band training, including what it is and how it can help runners.
Resistance band training is a form of exercise that uses plastic bands, loops, or tubes with varying levels of resistance in order to increase muscular strength. They are becoming more and more popular for runners as they are known to help increase their efficiency and pace, as well as improve their form and flexibility, and of course, build muscle.
However, there is still a lot more to learn about resistance bands and how they affect runners. Keep reading to find out how exactly resistance bands can benefit runners, and also if they can lead to any issues or detriments, as well as information for when to avoid resistance training and which specific exercises and bands are best for runners!
How Can Resistance Band Training Help Runners?
As we learned, resistance band training can be a great tool for runners. But let’s find out a little more about how they can directly benefit runners and why!
- Prevent/Repair Injury: Resistance bands were actually originally created for physiotherapy rehabilitation, and are a great tool for gently working the muscles slowly to either repair an injury or prevent one. The bands help develop the small muscles and joints that many runners ignore during their training, and by doing so, they create a healthier and stronger body less prone to injury.
- Increased Flexibility: Using resistance bands will help gently stretch the muscles before a run, significantly lowering the chance of tearing.
- Improve Performance: As we mentioned, bands tailor to the small muscles that you may never notice, in this way, resistance training will ensure all your muscles are actuated and working properly, which will result in more efficient running. Increased Efficiency absolutely will lead to a better pace and performance.
- Muscle Growth: Most runners aren’t looking to necessarily grow their muscles, however, it’s important to note with repetitive cardio such as running, you do run the risk of developing sarcopenia as you get older. It’s essential that you maintain enough muscle mass to keep running for as long as you can!
While all of these positive effects of resistance band training sound great, we also need to learn about the possible drawbacks.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Resistance Band Training for Runners?
There are actually very few disadvantages to resistance band training for runners. Most users and experts complain that the training does not produce enough muscles mass growth and that it is difficult to quantify gains, but those issues are not typically for runners who are solely trying to keep their muscles sustained, strong, and injury-free.
One factor to note as a runner is that while resistance bands are color coordinated for the lightest to heaviest resistance (we will learn more about the bands themselves in the following sections), there is no real way to gauge how your resistance strength is increasing.
As with a variety of other exercises, when using resistance band training, you need to listen to your body and not push it too hard by either upping the resistance or overworking your muscles before they are ready.
How Often Should You Perform Resistance Band Training?
Now that you understand that there are quite a few more pros than cons when it comes to resistance band training for runners, you are probably curious how often can you practice this extremely helpful workout.
Well, research shows that runners should perform resistance band training about two to three times per week. These exercises should be set to a light training day so as not to overwork the muscles.
If you are a long-distance runner or are training for a marathon or other long race, it’s recommended that you use the resistance band training for a solid foundation during the start of your training or on shorter distance days, and lessen the practices as your runs get longer.
When Should You Not Perform Resistance Band Training?
While resistance training is overall a fairly safe exercise program, there are a few things you need to be aware of when planning your sessions.
Although we know that resistance band training can be great therapy for injuries, we do not recommend initiating the exercises after sustaining an injury until you have seen a doctor who has prescribed and described which resistance workouts will help and not further hurt your injury.
To prevent injury, resistance band training should always be done before a run. It will increase your flexibility during the run but of course, it’s vital that you do not overwork the muscles to the point where the run is overly strenuous.
In the next section, we will discuss the top resistance band exercises for runners and how to make sure you do not overwork your body when adding these strengthing exercises into your training routine.
What are the Top 5 Resistance Band Exercises for Runners?
In order to get the most out of your training, you should add two to three resistance band workouts to your weekly schedule. While there are certainly a variety of exercises available, we have created a top 5 list of the best possible options specifically for runners.
- Lateral side steps are a great exercise for the hip flexors, glutes, and even for hip flexibility. It will increase strength as well as endurance.
- Clamshells will also strengthen the hip abductors and glutes.
- Double-leg glute bridges are of course beneficial for the glutes, but they will also stretch your hamstrings.
- Standing hip extensions will seriously increase your balance, stretch the glutes, and improve core strength.
- Foot and ankle mobility practices are often forgotten but incredibly important for runners. These small exercises will increase flexion and strength in the feet, ankles, and even calves.
Each of these resistance band workouts can be easily found on Youtube when you are ready to start using your bands! Before you purchase any, we have some important information on the different types of bands and which are best for you.
What Different Types of Resistance Bands Are There?
There is a wide variety of resistance bands available for purchase. So many in fact, that it has become quite challenging to figure out which ones are the best options for you. Luckily, we have done the research so you don’t have to!
While there are four popular types of resistance bands: flat bands, loop bands, resistance tubes, and the figure 8 band, most exercises for runners use flat or loop bands.
These two options are extremely similar and they both work in the same way and can be used for similar exercises, however, the flat bands are true to their name and are slightly thinner than the loop options.
Flat bands will certainly do the trick for any of your leg workouts, and you can tie the ends together to create a loop when needed. However, loop bands are slightly easier to use as most of the workouts we suggest are best practiced with an even oval shape.
The resistance strength of both loop and flat bands is usually categorized by colors. A good rule of thumb: the lighter the color, the lighter the resistance. For example, yellow is often the color with the least resistance, whereas black will require the most strength.
Resistance bands are quite an amazing little tool. They are extremely affordable, especially compared to other training machines or even gym memberships, and they are portable, easily accessible, and simple to use. But all of these aspects would be useless to you if they were not helpful to runners.
The good news is, resistance bands are a great strengthening tool for runners! And as you now know, resistance band training is great for flexibility, the prevention of injuries, rehabilitation, and even muscle growth.
By performing two to three weekly resistance band training sessions, you can increase your strength and physical health, and also your pace and efficiency, making you a stronger human and a better runner!
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