Possible Injuries from Improperly Using Resistance Bands

Physical therapist working with man exercising
Be sure to use your resistance band safely to avoid injury. Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Resistance bands, like Theraband brand exercise bands, are often used for physical therapy strengthening or stretching exercises. But are there dangers to using resistance bands?

If you have an injury or illness that causes pain and limited functional mobility, you may benefit from a few sessions with a physical therapist to help you restore normal movement. Your PT will perform an initial assessment to get a baseline of your impairments and functional mobility limitations.

He or she may measure your range of motion (ROM) and strength and offer strategies to help you move better and feel better.

Resistance bands, may be one way your physical therapist helps you exercise to improve your strength. Resistance bands are made of rubber, and are typically used for various strengthening exercises. You may use a band in the rehab clinic, or your PT may give you a resistance band to take home with you to do your home exercise program.

Any form of exercise can cause injury - after all, exercise is controlled physical stress. And using resistance bands can cause problems if they are not used properly. Before using resistance bands for any sort or rehabilitation or exercise training, check in with your physical therapist to ensure that you are exercising properly and safely.

Common Resistance Band Injuries

Here are a few mishaps and injuries that can occur if you use resistance bands:

  • Eye Injuries. If you are using a resistance band and it breaks suddenly, the band may snap back and hit you in the face. Also, if a band breaks suddenly, your own hand may strike your eye or face, causing injury. Be aware of your hand positioning and be sure to keep the band away from your face and eyes at all times. 
  • Latex allergies. Most resistance bands are made from latex rubber, and some folks are sensitive or allergic to latex. Contact with latex may cause a rash or hives, indicating that you are sensitive to the substance. No worries though; most resistance band manufactureres make a non-latex form of their band for your use if you are allergic to latex.
  • Muscle strains. Any exercise that is not done properly or is done too vigorously can cause muscle strains. Using a resistance band that is too strong for you can cause muscle pain and strains. Be sure to check in with your PT to make sure you are using the proper band for your current fitness level.
  • Joint injuries. If you are using a resistance band and it breaks, it may cause a sudden jerky motion around your joint, leading to stress and sprains to your joint capsule or ligaments.
  • Irritation of the hands and thumbs from blisters. Many people wrap the resistance band around their hands when performing upper extremity and shoulder exercises. This tight wrap of rubber may cause irritation or abnormal rubbing of the skin leading to blisters and skin breakdown of the hands. Some resistance band suppliers offer an interchangeable handle that can be used, or you can make your own handle for your resistance band out of a towel to help protect your hands while exercising.

    Limiting Your Risk of Injury

    When using a resistance band for your PT home exercise program, there are a few things you can do to limit your injury risk. First, be sure you understand how to properly perform your exercises, and make sure your PT thoroughly explains each movement to you.

    Also, make sure you are exercising in a safe place, away from dangerous areas. Hard surfaces with sharp edges may become a hazard if a band breaks and causes you to lose your balance and fall.

    Resistance bands are made from thin latex rubber. The stuff doesn't last forever, and it may become brittle if it is old. Inspect your resistance band for any signs of wear and tear prior to using it, and obtain a new band from your physical therapist is you see any damage to your band.

    Therapeutic exercise is an important component of your rehabilitation program. Your home exercise program may require that you use resistance bands to perform some - or all - of the exercises. When using resistance bands, check in with your physical therapist, and be sure you remain safe while performing your PT exercises with resistance bands.

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