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Beyond Bands: The Science & Application of Elastic Resistance

Beyond Bands: The Science & Application of Elastic Resistance
Barton Bishop, DPT, SCS, CKTI, CSCS
March 19, 2012

 Our objectives are first to understand the scientific basis behind all forms of elastic resistance, and then to appropriately demonstrate the use of elastic resistance devices.  With this being a webinar, I am not going to have you stand up and exercise, but if you do have access to a Thera-Band or an elastic band near you, or a tube, grabbing one and playing with it during the presentation can be very helpful.

The Science of Elastic Resistance Training

The first part of this presentation is a little scientific review, and it theoretically is a little boring.  I, however, like this kind of stuff, so it is not boring for me.  I took organic chemistry as an elective in undergrad, so I am a little bit of a nerd. 

The properties of elastic resistance make it a unique mode of training.  As we are all aware when isometric training is used, the source of its resistance is a tension that is internal to the body.  If you were to put one hand on your wrist and try to flex your elbow while resisting, you would have an isometric tension generated internally.

Isotonic would be using gravity, inertia and a mass, so having a five pound hand weight would be a form of isotonic resistance, with same tones and level.  Isokinetic would be a speed form of resistance.  Using a machine that limits one’s range of motion at a degree of 60 degrees per second is an isokinetic.  You can push as hard as you want, and the machine is not going to go any faster.  This is a way to provide resistance to the body.  Elastic is just different.  It is an external tension.  The tension that is generated is in the elastic band, as opposed to inside the body (isometric) or in other forms, like isotonic or isokinetic.


Elastic Resistance Training Basic Research

There is a lot of research that compares elastic resistance to isotonic resistance, with isotonic being the gold standard.  When someone wants to strengthen a muscle, we give them a hand weight or ankle weight, or we put them on a leg extension machine or a Total Gym.  Then we give them a set weight we want them to use.  That is our gold standard.  Elastic is very similar in the way the body responds.  The physiologic responses to training (Hostler et al. 2001; Nash et al. 2002; Sexsmith, Oliver, &  Johnson-Bos, 1992), by way of building muscle, having muscle hypertrophy and strength gains (Behm, 1991; Takeshima et al. 2002; Smockum et al., 2003; Colado & Triplett 2008), are all seen in many different studies.  The EMG profiles with the exercises are also very similar (LeBlanc et al. 2003; Lim & Chow, 1998; Matheson, Kernozek, Fater, & Davies, 2001).  Elastics are very similar in the way they work, when compared to isotonic protocol.

barton bishop

Barton Bishop, DPT, SCS, CKTI, CSCS

Barton N. Bishop, graduated from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska with a Doctor of Physical Therapy. While at Creighton, Dr. Bishop played Division-I collegiate golf and has done further study in the biomechanics of the golf swing and sports physical therapy including being a Certified Golf Fitness Instructor-Medical Professional Level 2 by the Titleist Performance Institute. In 2007, Dr. Bishop successfully passed the exam to become a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (SCS - ABPTS). He is also a Certified Instructor for Thera-Band Academy. Dr. Bishop is currently the Chief Clinical Officer of Sport and Spine Rehab in the Washington, DC area.

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