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I last wrote on the importance of a HEP (home exercise program). Let me expand on that.
Some of you might be familiar with resistance bands. Some have no idea what I’m talking about. Picture a giant rubber band with varying thicknesses. The higher the thickness, the more resistance, greater the challenge. The bands create resistance that stimulates muscle strength/growth. The critical piece is where to place the bands and direction of pull to get the most out of the bands. This is where we come in.
It takes skilled care to teach caregivers/patients how to use the bands. You can adjust the tautness (tightness) of the band to provide more or less resistance. Placement of the band and direction of pull are critical to get maximum benefit. The goal is for the patient/caregiver to use the band effectively and safely and independently.
Resistance ranges from 1 to 6 pounds on the light side (typically yellow or creme colored) to 10-40 pounds (Silver/gold colored). Those ranges are based on tightness or tautness or percentage of elongation. A taut yellow band would be closer to 6 pounds, a loose yellow band, would be around 1 pound.
Last blog, I talked about how muscle strength diminishes as we get older. This leads to problems, loss of muscle mass, bone density and falls with injuries.
As therapists, we can assess a person’s strength levels. We can determine if a loved one needs a resistance band. And we provide these bands (free of charge!) We can teach the patient and their caregivers on how to safely use the bands, frequency of use, etc.
Evidence from published studies reports that resistance bands provide similar strength gains when compared to resistance training performed on conventional devices. Bands, in a way, are more effective than free weights for older adults. They provide constant tension on the muscles throughout the entire range of motion. Bands cost less, are easier to transport, easier to use, safer, and less intimidating.