Pretty much every Physio I’ve seen has taken into account my little noodle arms, my easily misplaced balance and chronic fatigue and suggested I exercise with a resistance band. So when Care Co – who sell discount mobility aids – asked me to try out an item, that’s what I chose.
What is it?
The Exercise Band (£10) helps you to improve your muscles, fitness, control and co-ordination. You use it’s resistance and your own existing strength to build up more strength. This one smells strongly of latex and is a lovely teal colour. It has numbered positions on it to show you where to place your hands so you can increase the difficulty as you get past the first month.
How and Why?
The booklet contains a four week plan of six different exercises per week. It describes them with easy to follow instructions and illustrations (I’m not great at following instructions thanks to be Dyspraxic but I found this really simple) and also information on diet, general exercise tips and mental health tips, which I all found useful.
I have Hypermobity Syndrome meaning my soft tissue, muscles and joints are too stretchy, flexible and weak so I’d have really preferred the band had a loop on each end to help me hold it better (the booklet does mention consulting your GP if you have joint problems, right at the start). It does have enough room to wrap it around your hands though, if you don’t mind them getting squished, which I didn’t. However, I did need to wear wrist supports when using this.
I really enjoyed working my way through this plan and, I’m not going to lie, the novelty of this weird rubber band. It felt more like I was having fun rather than exercising but I also loved how structured the plan was as I have zero attention span and sporadic motivation, at best.
The Shoulder Press totally defeated me however, as I just didn’t have the strength in weak two or three or four to stretch the band over my head. I actually lost my grip at one point and smacked myself in the jaw! Hardly the first time that I’ve done this over the years btw. My Dad tried it, who stays fairly fit for a bloke in his Seventies and he got it to his jaw, the same as me. My bloke tried it who’s 6’2″ and 16 stone and succeeded immediately. So it is possible!
Can a giant rubber band really make a difference?
I didn’t have the energy to use this everyday but it certainly encouraged me to use it when I did have some. I’ve gotten better at the exercises with practice and my balance and co-ordination have noticeably improved – a big deal for someone with Hypermobilty Syndrome and Dyspraxia (which also effects co-ordination). I also noticed that in just four weeks my muscles adapted to the new kinds of movements.
My lower back was not happy at first but I realised it was because it was already incredibly tense from holding up my slightly floppy spine all day. A massage relaxed the muscles and I’d say the exercises will continue to make my core stronger in the future.
The band immediately highlights your strengths and weaknesses so, if like me, you have chronic fatigue and have to pace your workouts, you could just focus more on the areas that need improvement and reduce the amount you do in just four weeks with the areas that don’t need it as much.
Overall I found the Care Co exercise band to be fun, incredibly versatile, confidence building, easily transportable and storable but more importantly, something that gives me a reason to exercise, rather than an excuse not to.