Here is the real-life story of Mr. Harry Reid ( he is a retired American attorney and politician who served as the United States Senator from Nevada from 1987 to 2017) cited in Washington post.
Is this story relevant to your query! YES, it is… So read it carefully.
It is just a recitation of opening paragraph from the original post to let you know “ARE RESISTANCE BANDS SAFE?”
‘More than 10 months ago, Sen. Harry Reid’s life changed forever. The Nevada Democrat and Senate minority leader was exercising in his home with an elastic band when it snapped, throwing him into cabinets, causing him to lose sight in his right eye, changing his marriage and, ultimately, playing a role in ending his career’
Those who got panicked might now be thinking about quitting the use of resistance bands.
Those who are still optimistic, maybe thinking like ‘ Such injuries keep happening in other sports activities also. After all, nothing is perfect and 100% accident-proof.
Yes, injuries happen in every sport and even in daily chores. But the issue with resistance bands is that they look so sleek, soft and light that we somehow underestimate the safety instructions.
We just play with them casually like a tiny toy and injure ourselves seriously in the way, shocked and wondered.
So, my answer to your question is
“RESISTANCE BANDS ARE NOT SAFE”
Does it ends all and bring you to the conclusion. No, it’s not the end of the story.
Resistance bands are not safe if you don’t follow some safety instructions regarding storage and usage.
If you are following safety code, you shall be absolutely fine.
I have compiled some very useful and visualistic safety manual you can refer to, after lots of research mixed with my own experience supported by some super relevant visuals.
So stay tuned…
I have made a five steps ladder you need to climb to ensure 100% safety for you and your dear ones…
- Safe storage of resistance bands
- Personal dressing safety rules for the use of resistance bands
- Workout area instructions for safe use of resistance bands
- Safe usage of resistance bands during the exercises.
- The maintenance procedure for resistance bands
A) SAFE STORAGE OF RESISTANCE BANDS –
The first step after you buy the resistance band is to store them somewhere inside the home or your gym.
The fact that resistance bands are soft and flexible, so they do need proper storage to ensure prolonged life and prevent sudden failures.
Here are some of the tips, you need to follow…
1. Don’t store them in hot conditions –
Most of the resistance bands are made out of the natural rubber latex which is also used in making rubber gloves, tires, balloons, etc..
As such, they are prone to damage with direct sunlight and can become brittle & crack.
Even if you have to use them in direct sunlight, always keep lubricating them regularly to prevent the rubber from drying out.
There are lubricants and sprays available in the market for this purpose.
IDEA – ” Natural Rubber Latex is sensitive to ultraviolet rays and ozone. So, it is always advised to keep bands safe from UV rays. As an alternative, you can go for Latex- free resistance bands which are least sensitive to UV rays.”
2. Don’t store resistance bands in moisture –
It is always advised to keep resistance bands away from water and moisture as chlorine present in the water reacts with natural rubber of strength bands making them brittle and develop cracks.
IDEA – If you want to use resistance bands in pool or near sea shore, you can do so. But don’t forget to rinse workout bands thoroughly with fresh tap water and dry them in open air to dry out left over moisture.
3. Don’t fold at sharp angles –
Resistance bands should not be stored by twisting or folding at sharp angles as rubber tends to develop miniature cracks at those twisted ends and weaken up in the process.
4. Store them away from hot surfaces –
Needless to say, the natural rubber used in resistance bands gets greatly affected by the high temperatures and becomes brittle.
As a result, training bands can break easily even on slight bends. Hot surfaces may be near a microwave, DVD player, near the gas stove in the kitchen etc…
5. Keep bands away from kids –
Kids often get attracted to resistance bands and start playful activities. They may not only harm these delicate bands but may also harm themselves seriously.
6. Remove all accessories before storing –
Some resistance bands come in a kit with door attachment, ankle cuff, waist attachments which must be separated from exercise bands before storing as bands may get entangled causing cracks over the sharp turns over the period of time.
B) PERSONAL DRESSING SAFETY RULES FOR SAFE USE OF RESISTANCE BANDS –
1. Don’t wear anything with sharp edges –
It makes common sense to not wear anything like rings, earrings, necklace etc with sharp cuts as they may rub against elastic exercise bands during exercise and may trigger damage to your bands
2. Cut your nails –
Be sure to cut nails of your hands and feet before using these rubber fitness bands as slight cuts from nails accelerate the damage thereby shortening the life of resistance bands.
3. Wash your hands before every use –
Sounds strange but dirty hands with chemicals & dirt can easily react with the rubber material of stretching bands and make them weak over time causing discoloration and puncturing in the process.
4. Wear Shoes with non-abrasive soles –
Never ever wear shoes with spikes in the soles like used by footballers or others as a fashion statement.
The sole of shoes must be flat, smooth and soft to avoid any damage by rubbing over the resistance bands.
Soft shoe soles also provide better gripping for exercises involving workout bands to be placed below the feet.
C. WORKOUT AREA INSTRUCTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF RESISTANCE BANDS
1. Keep Floor clean and even –
The uneven surface of the workout area may cause roughness on bands in exercises involving exercise bands touching over the floor.
Further, any dirt on the floor may make the surface rough.
IDEA – It is always advisable to use exercise/yoga mats instead of doing resistance bands workout directly on the floor.
2. Keep furniture at distance from workout zone –
It does make sense to keep yourself away from any physical items, you may fall upon which I don’t wish.
The reason is simply that after all resistance bands are only the rubber bands whose elasticity may fail anytime.
IDEA – It is always advised not to do anti-gravity exercises where your body weight is supported by bands. Even if you do so, like with power loop bands, keep some foam mat on the floor to prevent falling straight on floor in case of snapping of the band.
D. SAFE USAGE OF RESISTANCE BANDS DURING THE EXERCISES
1. Don’t Overstretch the bands –
Never stretch resistance bands more than 2.5 times the original length. Though, some companies recommend maximum stretching up to 3 times. However, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Some people, in order to increase resistance from the same resistance band color, either double folds the band or shortens the length which leads to the above issue of overstretching.
IDEA – So, it is advisable to instead go for a thicker resistance band for matching your improving stamina instead of overstretching the existing color bands.
2. Use recommended anchoring systems only –
Sometimes, you make use of your hands and feet as anchoring points, but sometimes, doors, furniture, and trees in the garden look like better options for certain exercises.
It is always advisable to only make use of the door and other attachments made out of polyester (cloth fabric).
NOTE – The use of steel rings such as below is not recommended as these shiny sleeping buckles don’t hold the bands in place during exercises resulting in back and forth motion of resistance bands inside the buckle.
The consistent rubbing of bands on the steel ring causes heat in the process which makes rubber workout bands weak over time.
3. Don’t put handles in your feet –
Do what handles are meant for, it is that simple. Handles are meant to be used to be held in hands for a better grip.
Any slippage of handles put over feet under tension may injure you badly.
IDEA – There are some special handles made especially for feet, use them instead if your kind of exercises demands so.
4. Inspect resistance bands and handles before every use –
Always inspect every resistance bands for any discoloration, holes, and cracks before using them.
Check the surface of bands for any roughness as the rough surface is the starting point for cracks and holes in later stages.
Handles are also the weak point, being an artificial joint.
Discard the resistance bands immediately if you find any of the above symptoms.
Spend money or Give money to doctors.
IDEA – It is a good idea to go for resistance tube bands with cloth fabric covering or braided resistance bands which won’t break instantly.
5. Keep your face away from the plane of movement –
This issue is huge, believe me.
Never do any resistance band exercise in such a way that they may shoot back directly to your face, just in case, elastic bands slip from anchor point or snap all of a sudden.
IDEA – It is always a good idea to wear eye protection gear such as protective glasses made for this purpose while doing resistance bands exercises.
6. Keep kids and pets away while doing Resistance bands exercises –
The resistance bands, unlike dumbbells and barbells, have a much larger area within vicinity as risk zone.
The resistance bands may injure any third person during exercises if he is within the approachable distance just in case of any failure.
So its always a good idea to keep children and pets away from workout zone.
7. Do not hang or suspend over the resistance bands –
The resistance bands are meant to be used for doing exercises while your body weight is supported by ground. Suspending in air or titling backwards with support of rubber bands is scary.
You may use pull up assist bands for some bodyweight exercises. However, due precautions needs to be taken.
IDEA – For hanging or suspending, it is good idea to go for suspension straps meant for this purpose like below…
8. Always start your exercise slowly –
With resistance bands, you are the creator of your own exercises including the set up, anchoring arrangement, plane of movement etc.
So it does make sense to start exercise slowly just to check if anchor, band and your technique is well in place.
9. Avoid looking directly at the fitness bands –
This tip looks quite similar to the earlier recommendation at sr. no. 5 (to keep face away from plane of movement). Isn’t it?.
But there is a slight difference.
Here, it is advised to never look towards anchor point even if your face is out of the plane of motion. As any part during failure of the band may come close to your eyes or nose by getting deflected from the original plane of movement.
10. Never release resistance band under tension –
Do i need to stress upon this point?
Doesn’t everybody know about it!
But I do need to stress upon this tip too. The reason is that I, myself suffered injury from above ignorance though I was not responsible myself.
Here is what happened –
I was doing a biceps exercise using a tube resistance band with my new partner. He was holding the tube resistance band from one handle while I was holding another side of the resistance band in my hand. We were doing biceps turn by turn while maintaining tension in the band (Just for fun, I admit).
Suddenly, my partner who was quite ignorant released the handle from his end under full tension which was not intentional (as per his version and I suppose). And all of a sudden, my thumb got numb in a blink of an eye. I just felt like some bullet hit me hard. Blood was oozing out from my thumb. It took me a while to understand what had happened as pain subsidized a bit.
Actually, the steel ring where the handle is attached to the band had struck back on my thumbnail. THANK GOD, my nail had gone broken without any fracture.
My face was not in plane of movement of the exercise.
So take due care and keep reminding others…
E) MAINTENANCE PROCEDURE FOR RESISTANCE BANDS –
1. Lubricate the resistance bands regularly –
The resistance bands are made out of the natural rubber and rubber is bound to dry out in a year or two of continuous use.
So, it is a good idea to use some good rubber lubricant every two months or more to extend their shelf life.
2. Don’t wash/wipe with detergent or soap –
Use simple wet piece of smooth and soft cloth piece to wipe the dirt from resistance bands. The chemicals in detergent and soaps are known to react with rubber and weaken it.
F. MY OPINION –
Dumbbells and barbells are sturdy and don’t snap like resistance bands. I do admit that resistance bands are comparatively higher in the risk factor.
But higher flexibility in terms of versatility and usage have their own cons.
Awareness, cautious and preventive steps can easily reduce risk to a bare minimum. I, myself, have been using work out bands for a number of years without any fatal incidents except the one I mentioned above.
Share your own experiences and opinions here to help others. Don’t forget to share any extra tips to make resistance bands safe which I may have left mistakenly. Cheers!