Have you noticed how certain things become popular all of a sudden?
In the in the 80s it was the double denim and big moustache look, in the 90s it was all about shell suits and the Walkman.
These days you can’t go anywhere without seeing unicorns.
There’s no real benefit to these crazes, it’s just what people enjoy at the time, but some ideas become popular, when actually, they could be quite damaging.
Take resistance bands for example.
Resistance bands are great.
Used instead of free weights such as kettlebells or barbells, they provide a completely different workout, since the load is applied in both directions of the movement.
They’re portable and cheap.
The thicker ones can even be used to assist in pull ups.
But how are they dangerous?
In certain fitness communities (like CrossFit and Powerlifting), it has become popular to use these thicker resistance bands for mobility.
This video shows an example of what I mean
The idea is that the pressure from the band pushes the head of the femur (the thigh bone) forwards (or backwards depending on which way round you have the band), into a “better” position.
Unfortunately, most people have no clue whether their bodies would find that helpful or not.
Bodies have two jobs; stabilise and protect.
Everything they do is centred around those two things.
Using the force of the band to push your bones around overrides this natural protection, and while you may make enough temporary change to immediately improve your squat technique, it leaves you susceptible to other issues.
It’s possible that by forcing your thigh bone into a more forwards position in the socket, you are putting the deep hip rotators (for example) into a sustained stretch position, which may get over stretched when you perform your squat, leaving you with potential glute/sciatic pain.
The trouble is, it’s doubtful that this pain would be associated with the mobility work, since that in itself wasn’t painful.
What does that have to do with performance?
This type of mobility work is often done immediately before training, which offers up another problem.
Not only are the muscles and bones forced into a new position, but then they are asked to perform movement and often, endure load, in this new position when the muscles simply aren’t prepared for it.
At best this will lead to severe soreness the next day (which is often misconstrued as progress), but at worst can lead to muscle tendon or ligament damage.
In addition, the result of this type of mobility work is often temporary (just like when using a foam roller), and the soreness/tightness it creates, simply leads to more tightness afterwards as the body tries to return itself to a more comfortable position.
Over time, the effect of this type of mobility work is to either increase tension around the joint as the body struggles to cope with the new position, or some ligaments become too loose, which leads to an increased risk of dislocation.
In both cases, performance suffers as the body is no longer capable of using ALL the muscles in a joint to produce movement and the ones it can access have limited functionality due to an over-tight or over-lengthened state.
You can easily create traction through your leg, without the need of a band, simply by resting your knee on the floor and pulling your pelvis away from it.
Done gently, and with some small, micro movements, the body isn’t forced to do anything it doesn’t want to do, and if it would benefit your whole body for that joint to change position, then it will.
If not – it won’t.
No harm done.
Muscle tightness is like a puzzle, you have to find the area of the body that will release something, then find another bit, then another.
Each of these bits is individual to you, and following a trend to try to force your body to improve, is (to me at least) like trying to push a car with the handbrake on.
Forget the gadgets, let’s release your handbrake.
For a longer-lasting, gadget-free, time-saving solution to your specific mobility issues, I’d like to invite you to take my FREE Injury Predictor Assessment so you can identify QUICKLY what’s likely to be causing your particular issues, and start dealing with them now.