Doing resistance band physiotherapy exercises is a great way to gently strengthen your joints for injury rehab or recovery after surgery.
As well as physiotherapy, resistance bands are also perfect for strength and fitness training at home, as they can be done with minimum space and are small enough to be taken with you anywhere.
This post will cover the benefits of using resistance bands for physiotherapy and strength/fitness exercises, and show you the best kind of bands to use.
Also included is a full body workout with 24 exercises for physiotherapy, strength and fitness training.
Table of Contents
Why use resistance bands for physiotherapy?
Resistance bands are perfect for physiotherapy because of the way they can be used to apply resistance to any movement and from any angle.
For injury rehab (for example, shoulder recovery) you often need to exercise the muscle or joint in a very specific position and angle of movement. This is not possible with weights because they only apply resistance in one direction, following gravity – i.e. up to down.
Physio bands, on the other hand, can be secured to an anchor point (for example by looping them onto a door handle or other fixed object) and then use them to do physiotherapy exercises from whichever angle you need.
Strength & fitness training
Exercise bands are not only useful for physiotherapy, they’re also a great tool for general strength and fitness training, as well as yoga, Pilates and CrossFit. They can even be used to add resistance to sports-specific movements like a golf swing or a judo throw.
Their versatility means the number of exercises you can do with bands is virtually unlimited. And as a bonus, they’re extremely cheap and can fit right in your pocket.
The exercises you’ll see in this guide are useful for full-body strength training, injury prevention or for physical therapy. If you’re injured, always check with a physiotherapist as they will be able to tell you the most appropriate physical therapy exercises for you.
What are the best resistance bands for physiotherapy?
The best physiotherapy bands are made of 100% natural latex, which is the best for long-lasting elasticity. They can safely be stretched over 2.5 times their length without fear of breakage and they come in various resistance levels.
24 Resistance Band Physiotherapy Exercises
Stand on the middle of the band with feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Hold the other ends at neck height. Without moving your arms, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then drive your body back up to the start position. Keep your back slightly arched during the exercise.
#2 Bent-Over Row
Stand on the centre of the band and hold onto either end. Lean forward, bending at the waist and knees. Keep your back straight. Stretch the band by pulling it upwards, squeezing your shoulder blades together in the final position.
Start with feet roughly hip-width apart, standing on the band with toes slightly out. Keeping your lower back arched, bend from the waist and knees to grasp the band. Lift your chest and straighten your upper back, head looking forward. Now stand up, pulling the band taut.
#4 Push Up
Sling the band behind your back and get into a push-up position, holding the band under your palms. Perform push-ups as normal but with the added resistance from the band.
#5 Seated Row
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Loop the band around your toes and hold onto it with both hands straight in front of you with some tension in the band. Keeping your back straight, pull the band towards your chest and hold briefly, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
#6 Lying Kick
Lie on your back with one knee raised and the band looped around your foot. Hold onto the ends of the band and brace your arms at your sides. Kick your leg out, extending fully, then return to start.
#7 Bridge Thrust
Place the band around your waist. Lie facing up with your hands under your body, holding the band and pushing downwards. Lift your hips as high as possible, pulling the band taut. Don’t let your hands lift off the floor.
#8 Donkey Kick
Start in a kneeling position with the band looped around your foot and holding on to the ends. Kick your leg back and up towards the ceiling. Squeeze your glutes and hold for a moment.
#9 Resisted Lunge
Stand with one foot on the centre of the band, holding onto the ends. Lower yourself into a deep lunge position. Driving through the front leg, bring yourself back to the starting position.
#10 Outward Shoulder Rotator
Hold the band with forearms extended in front of you, elbows in to your sides. Stretch the band by rotating your shoulders outward, keeping your forearms horizontal. Make sure to keep your shoulders in a natural position – not hunched up or forward.
#11 External Shoulder Rotation
Secure the band to an object at chest level and hold one end with the band taut. Keep your elbow close to your side (can place a rolled towel between your body and upper arm to limit upper arm movement). Rotating your shoulder outwards, stretch the band as far as possible. Be sure to keep your shoulder back and your elbow in.
#12 Internal Shoulder Rotation
Same as above, except this time you are rotating your shoulder inwards. Again, be sure to keep your shoulder back (not hunched forward) and your elbow close to your side. Placing a towel between your body and upper arm may help.
#13 Horizontal Arm Extension
Hold the band with arms straight out in front of you. Keep your elbows unlocked and your posture upright. Pull the band apart as far as possible and hold for a moment, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
#14 Rear Arm Extension
Hold the band with your arms behind your back, elbows unlocked. Pull the band apart, keeping an upright posture.
#15 Shoulder Flexion
Secure the band below waist level and hold one end with your elbow straight, hand at the opposite hip. Pull the band upward and away from your body, keeping your arm straight. Maintain an upright posture and don’t let your shoulder hunch upwards during the movement.
#16 Shoulder Raise
Stand on the middle of the band, feet shoulder-width apart. Holding onto each end, lift your arms straight in front of you up towards the ceiling.
#17 Lateral Shoulder Raise
Stand on the band, holding on to either end with some tension in the band. Keeping your arms straight, lift them out to the side until they are at head height.
#18 Lat Pulldown
Hold the band at arms-length over your head. Keep one arm straight and braced firmly. With the other arm, pull the band downwards and outwards to head-height then return to start and switch arms.
#19 Overhead Row
Hold the band with arms extended over your head. Slowly lower your elbows, stretching the band apart behind your head. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and maintain an upright posture.
#20 Tricep Extension
Loop the band around one hand and hold it tightly against the opposite shoulder. With the other arm, keep your elbow close in to your side and pull the band downwards using your tricep muscle.
#21 Vertical Pull Apart
Hold the band with arms extended straight in front of you, one higher than the other. Pull the band apart, moving the arms in a vertical plane.
#22 Kneeling Row
Start in a half kneeling position with the band around your front foot. Hold the band and lean forward over your front leg. Keep your back straight and pull back without shrugging your shoulders.
#23 Kneeling Ab Crunch
Loop the band over an object at head height. Kneel down, holding both ends of the band next to your ears. Use your abdominal muscles to curl your body down, pulling the band taut.
#24 Wood Chop
Attach the band to a point above head height. Bend from the waist, pulling the band down towards the opposite foot. Contract your abdominal muscles and hold briefly.
Click here to see our full range of resistance bands for physiotherapy exercises and strength training.