Recovery movements are integral to your overall fitness because recovery allows you to lengthen and stretch the muscles you’re working hard to build. If you’re not adding in a dedicated recovery day to your current programming, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Eventually, the lack of a recovery day will probably catch up to you. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution that’s inexpensive and incredibly easy to incorporate into any fitness routine.
If you only ever purchase one more piece of fitness equipment, you should buy a set of resistance bands. We know, that’s a pretty bold statement, right? Let’s take a look at how resistance bands work and how easily they can be used in your recovery day programming or your after-workout cooldown.
There’s no need to rehash our recovery series about the benefits of resistance bands for a recovery day since we’ve covered it extensively in our upper body recovery and speeding up muscle recovery articles. But just in case you need a refresher, here’s a quick review.
Recovery days are essential for your overall fitness progression. You should take a recovery day if you feel like your performance is lagging, you’re more tired than usual, or you can’t make the same lifts you did last week. Realistically, even if you don’t exhibit any of these signs, it’s probably a good to take a day off with some active recovery every five or six days of training. That’s a loose estimate since everyone’s body, and training approach is entirely different. If you’re new to your fitness journey, it’s recommended you take more rest days than you think you need.
So, how can you best serve your body and get some rest at the same time? Enter the concept of an active recovery day! This can be anything from low impact activities like walking with a weight vest or a leisurely cycling adventure. Or you could explore resistance bands to help work on your mobility, range of motion, and unravel any knots in your muscular myofascial. Resistance bands for lower body recovery work can help you get deeper into stretches, which can help you perform better in the gym. Specific stretches are best done when you have assistance – either in the form of someone helping ease you into position or by using a band. Resistance bands are essential for lower body recovery because they’re portable, inexpensive, and simple to use.
With resistance bands, you decide how deep you want the stretch to go and for how long you want to hold it. In this way, you begin learning how to best listen to and care for your body – both fundamental skills for any fitness enthusiast to have.
Lower body: Knee Stabilisers and Lateral Walks
Band recovery work is a great way to explore and strengthen specific joints’ stability through isometric tension. Lateral movements are common in sports but less common on the weight room floor. Bands can help address those deficiencies and help with your overall flexibility, too. For lifters and casual athletes, these lateral movements might not be a part of our daily programming, which is why focusing on them during recovery sessions can help improve overall performance over time.
To work on knee stability, use a large resistance band secured to a post or squat rack. Wrap the band around your thigh just about the knee and move away from your anchor. You’re looking for a distance that makes the tension feel tight but not so tight that you can’t move. When the tension feels right, bend your knee slightly and work to maintain a 90-degree angle alignment. Try to hold the position for thirty seconds and then rest and repeat.
We front squat, back squat, lunge, and deadlift. But so often, we forget about lateral movement. In turn, our lateral skills suffer, and if you’ve just completed a monster leg day, you might be feeling sore all over. Incorporating lateral banded walks into your recovery can help loosen stiff quads and work to establish greater glute strength over time. Place a small resistance band on your quads just above your knee. Keep your foot and knee aligned and take a step laterally, either to the left or the right. This movement will challenge both your sagittal movement abilities and stabiliser muscles.
The great thing about resistance band recovery is that you can easily incorporate all manner of movements into your already established routine. When working with bands, make sure you perform each movement slowly and with control. This will ensure you’re achieving the maximum range of motion possible. The worst mistake you can make is to pull on a band forcefully during the concentric motion and then letting it snap back without control during the eccentric movement. When this happens, you’re not activating or strengthening your stabiliser muscles. Instead, it actually limits your range of motion, which means you’re going to be sore for longer.