Latex vs Non-Latex Resistance Bands – Which is best material to choose?
Welcome here for a detailed yet to the point explanation to your queries.
Here I shall try to provide some deep insights about the material used in resistance bands while making you capable to figure out the preferred choice of material for resistance band.
The market of resistance bands is filled with two kinds of resistance bands – LATEX and NON-LATEX which is in addition to vast designs of resistance bands already available in the market. Thereby making a buying decision even more complicated.
Here is an article written by me – how to choose a resistance band? where I mentioned all major types of resistance bands and matching with an individual’s fitness levels to ease down the anxiety while making buying decisions.
LET US JUMP RIGHT INTO OUR MAIN CONCERN….
Here is the brief index of you shall learn by the end of this article
|1. Meaning of Latex, origin and its applications|
|2.Meaning of Non-latex, origin and its applications|
|3. Latex resistance band’s pros and cons|
|4. Non-latex resistance band’s pros and cons|
|5. Final battle – Latex vs Non-Latex|
|6. My Opinion|
You can straightaway jump to the relevant portion of the index.
However, I recommend you to go through 1st and 2ND STEPS on priority to engrave the reasons for my opinion in your subconscious mind forever…
MEANING OF LATEX AND ITS ORIGIN-
LATEX is normally referred to as Natural Rubber latex (NRL). Latex is actually milky white liquid similar in appearance to the cow milk.
It is extracted from the Hevea Brasilienesis Rubber tree (YOU DON’T NEED TO REMEMBER THE NAME THOUGH).
The rubbery fluid is contained right beneath the bark and it is collected by making a cut on the outer side of the trunk thereby disrupting the duct of natural fluid flowing right below the duct.
Then the rubbery milky fluid is collected in some wooden cups or containers for few hours and thereafter trees are left free for replenishing the liquid again before coming back for the next sessions.
Amazing! Isn’t it!
As per aceprodcon, this liquid latex is made up of fifty-five percent water and forty percent rubber.
This is the reason, moisture plays an important part in the upkeep of resistance bands. Overtime resistance bands made out of latex tends to dry up due to loss of moisture and become brittle.
TIP – So preventing resistance bands made of latex from direct sunlight and lubricating them regularly is key to use them for longer periods of time.
Find out more about above in this interesting article – Are resistance bands safe in which I have addressed the safety concerns and tips for safe use of resistance bands.
APPLICATIONS OF LATEX MATERIAL –
It is most commonly used in making gloves, balloons, tennis shoes, swim caps, conveyer belts among several other uses including resistance bands.
MEANING OF NON-LATEX AND ITS ORIGIN –
Non-Latex actually refers to synthetic latex indeed. In technical terms, it is called Thermoplastic Elastomer, in short, TPE.
So it is a completely man-made artificial material. It has been made with some purpose in mind to overcome the shortcomings of NRL (Natural Rubber Latex).
Is TPE is superior to NRL then? Hold on, don’t come to the conclusion right away. There is a lot more to it … Follow with me…
While latex material is natural rubber extracted from rubber trees and processed, this synthetic latex is composed of petroleum-based chemicals that are clumped and dried together.
After vulcanization and other processes in the factory, they are molded into a vast variety of products.
APPLICATIONS OF NON-LATEX MATERIAL –
TPE/ non-latex material finds applications in insoles of shoes, athletic cups, mouth guards, pet toys, medical equipment, etc…
NOTE – The reason for employing the latex and Non- latex material in various products just mentioned, have some hidden technical reasons. I will reveal those in the final battle. It shall clear your concepts and amaze you a bit.
Just memorize them for a while…
Now as you have gone through the meaning, origin, and applications of each material, you are now well equipped to understand our most relevant part of this article i.e, pros and cons of the latex and non-latex material in the context of resistance bands…
Here we go…
PRO AND CONS OF LATEX RESISTANCE BANDS-
Most of the resistance bands you would find in the market are made out of latex i.e., Natural Rubber Latex.
As the latex is actually the rubber in its most natural form which is processed further for practical applications, they do have some advantages
Here is the power loop resistance band made out of latex that I use personally –
- Latex workout bands being made from original rubber in its natural form has better tensile strength, elasticity making them an ideal choice where elasticity and physical properties matter a lot. Resistance bands are one such application.
- Latex resistance bands are 100% biodegradable. Being a natural rubber, it decomposes and helps the environment.
- Latex resistance bands when rubbed with the skin during various body parts exercises may cause skin allergies. People allergic to latex are strictly advised to stay away from latex resistance bands.
But how do I know whether I am latex allergic?
There are some symptoms while using latex elastic bands which may help you confirm whether you are allergic to latex
“Latex allergy may include itching, stuffy or runny nose or chest tightness and difficulty in breathing ( a sign of asthma). These symptoms usually begin within minutes of coming in contact with latex resistance bands.”
A more serious allergy may cause allergic shock with severe breathing issues and or fall in blood pressure.
Consult Doctor in such a case immediately in your vicinity.
It is always advised to keep resistance bands away from use in swimming pool and ocean as natural rubber is non-inert and easily reacts with salt in the sea and excess chlorine present in swimming pool developing cracks over time.
- Latex stretching bands are sensitive to ozone and ultraviolet rays. The reason is quite simple. As I explained in MEANING OF LATEX AND ITS ORIGIN- section, Latex is made out of 55% water making them prone to getting dried due to direct sunlight especially UV rays.
Latex resistance bands are always kept away from heat sources such as electronic equipment, gas stove, etc. as they become brittle with long term exposure to high temperatures.
The above drawbacks limit the usage of latex in the medical field and areas where high temperatures and unfavorable environmental factors are involved.
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PRO AND CONS OF NON-LATEX RESISTANCE BANDS –
The elastic strength bands made from TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) which is man-made artificial material, are referred to as the non-latex resistance bands.
For people directly skipping to this section may refer to MEANING OF NON-LATEX AND ITS ORIGIN – section for understanding what TPE means including other details.
Here is the tube resistance band kit I am using made from non-latex –
In appearance, they appear very similar to latex counterparts
TPE being an artificial material is superior to natural latex rubber in some ways as discussed here…
- As per Star Thermoplastics,
Non-latex Thermoplastic elastomers are non- allergenic. As such, they are safe for use on skin, inside the body, around food & drink.
This the reason, non-latex TPE material finds numerous applications in surgical equipment, gloves, etc as also cited in APPLICATIONS OF NON LATEX MATERIAL – section.
In similar terms, non-latex resistance bands are preliminary meant for people who are allergic to latex and may develop serious medical issues due to latex resistance bands.
- Non-latex resistance bands have great Ultraviolet and ozone resistance. As a result, non-latex resistance bands are better equipped to withstand higher temperatures in summers.
- Non-Latex resistance bands have comparatively lesser elasticity being an artificial rubber
- Non-Latex strength bands are non-biodegradable and don’t decompose. As a result, they are more harmful from the environment safety perspective.
FINAL BATTLE – LATEX VS NON-LATEX RESISTANCE BANDS –
Reaching here means you are in a position to take your own call for the kind of material of resistance band for your own needs.
I have made an informative chart to summarize the differences between the latex and non-latex for quick reference & sharing with others –
MY OPINION –
Before coming to my opinion, here is an important observation from real-seal worth reading-
“Although TPE materials have improved dramatically in the last 20 years, they are still generally inferior in terms of physical properties. All else being equal, rubber materials will normally have better tensile strength, elongation, and especially compression set. TPE’s offer environmental advantages, as their thermal bonds are reversible, so they can be widely used as “filler” or regrind in a multitude of applications”
That said, Latex resistance bands exhibit better elasticity, tensile strength and as such, these are better than non-latex TPE material when we compare the physical properties of both. Further, latex resistance bands are environment-friendly too.
On the other side, non-latex elastic exercise bands do perform better in protecting workout bands from an environmental perspective and do not cause allergies.
In my opinion, If you are not allergic to latex, always prefer latex resistance bands for their better elongation and durability provided you protect them from high temperature, direct sunlight, water and lubricate them regularly to retain moisture.
NOTE – There are also one more types of resistance bands which are the mixture of fabric and latex.
I am going to provide a detailed comparison between the latex/non-latex with fabric type resistance bands in the coming weeks.
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Meanwhile, check out the fabric resistance band here to get a glimpse of what these special resistance bands are designed for…
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